Archive for September, 2008


Sep 10, 2008

Lance Armstrong: video statement


Now deleted.



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Sep 10, 2008

Auto-updating Interbike scheduling for PCs, Macs, iPhones and other cellphones




If you’re going to Interbike, or if you’re going to watching the streaming TV content, you might want to subscribe to this here calendar. It’s a list of bike trade dates and has now been updated with Interbike timings, including Interbike TV shows (I’m hosting one of them…), CrossVegas, the US Crits, the Tour of Lake Mead and the two social media seminars.

The Google Calendar can be accessed here.

This is the calendar ID: rc15bhcilvihde18fb5s27v08g@group.calendar.google.com and here’s the .ics and XML formats.



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Sep 10, 2008

Digi-map your ride


bristolstreets2
At the end of August, Mary Spence, president of the British Cartographic Society, laid into online mapping, claiming that Google Maps and Multimap were “demolishing thousands of years of history [and] geography” because they, and other online mapping services, failed to always include the same amount of detail as Ordnance Survey maps.

She said online mapping was good for driving directions but left out the sort of crucial data people need to understand a landscape, such as churches, ancient woodlands and stately homes.

During a talk delivered at the conference of the Institute of British Geographers in London, she said:

“We’re in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique, giving us a feel for a place even if we’ve never been there.”

Google, Microsoft, and satnav specialists, such as Garmin, were guilty of “corporate blankwash,” said Ms Spence.

She didn’t diss everything digital: she championed projects such as Open Street Map, a wiki map that users can update with plots of anything they fancy: from bike shops to bus stops, and from pubs to post boxes.

This personalisation of maps is powerful: but it’s not just a wiki thing, Google Maps does it, too. Third-party developers produce so-called ‘mash-ups’ of Google Maps, And far from killing maps, mash-ups are allowing individuals and special interest groups to create hard-working maps that clearly have an enormous role to play in the future of wayfinding.

There’s an ever growing list of such way-finders on Bikeforall.net.

bristolstreets

BRISTOL STREETS
One of the newest additions to the Bikeforall list is Bristolstreets.co.uk, a map-based site covering all of Bristol - natch – but also parts of South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

Bristolstreets.co.uk is a map-based site chocka with transport information, including bike lanes, off road routes, bus routes (with live bus info), train times, and car club locations. The site is interactive, too. Users can mark the map and post a request for cycle parking, or suggest the addition of a cycle lane, or flag up a hazard such as a pothole. There’s no guarantee any particular request will be acted upon, but the council will use the data collectively to determine where improvement will be most effective.

Although the site looks like the work of a massively funded quango - Bristol, after all, is England’s first ‘cycling city’ and is home to the UK’s chief ’shared space’ transport guru - it’s actually the work of a one-man company.

Toby Lewis of Logogriph of Bristol is a web designer. His site is Google Transit on steroids.

He created it in November 2007 and it has been evolving - and improving - ever since. It was started because travel information about Bristol appears all over the place

“There are already many sources of information about public transport. People are faced with a needle in a haystack and often multiple haystacks as different transport modes have different web sites or different organisations providing information. There is little consistency in the presentation of the information from different sources,” said Lewis.

“There are lots of web sites these days with maps in them, but there are few where the map is the site. When location is an important aspect of the information it makes sense to present this first on a map and then show further details when the visitor has identified the items of interest.”

The site will pay for itself with paid-for markers, said Lewis. He’s planning to add a property section. Estate agents could load house-for-sale markers. Bike shops could pay to be listed. He’s also making money for hosting survey research. Bristol City Council is currently seeking information on cycle commuting take-up in Bristol and has a survey on Bristolstreets.co.uk

Lewis isn’t worried that Google Transit could steal his thunder: “Google Transit is fantastic but it doesn’t get under the skin of a city. When you live in the city you’re producing a map for, you have on-the-ground knowledge. This is critical when you’re navigating people around an area.”

Bristolstreets.co.uk also has a Facebook presence.



GOOGLE TRANSIT
In the US, Google Transit has made big strides since it was launched.

“Plan a transit trip in several cities across the US and Canada with Google Maps. Get step-by-step directions and travel times for your entire route, all in one place online.”

The first map was for the San Francisco Bay area.

Other cities have since come on stream. There’s still little info on UK cities. In fact, the only UK location for Google Transit is South East of England, but it’s populated with data only from ?Traveline South East.

In theory, Google Transit offers A to B walking routes as well as bus and car route information. What is doesn’t yet provide is bike route info. Such an omission rankles with some cyclists. Earlier this year GoogleMapsBikeThere.org was set up to pester and petition Google to add bicycle routing to Google Transit.

However, this isn’t something Google could provide easily. Cyclists may pick out short-cuts side streets sometimes, but this can often be a slow way to cycle across a city. And bike paths very often snake their way around town, when roads usually take the most direct route. Any cycling directions on Google Transit would therefore have to be produced by cyclists. But one cyclist’s ‘dangerous highway, choked with cars’ is another cyclist’s ‘fast route into town, with cars as pacers’.

Google need not do all the legwork themselves. As other Google mash-ups have shown - for instance, byCycle.org, which provides bike mapping for Portland, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin - people are willing to share their knowledge for the greater good.

ridethecity
RIDE THE CITY
Mash-up site RideTheCity of New York has taken a different approach. Instead of seeking rider feedback, it has meshed Google Maps with city crash stats, creating recommendations for safer routes. It can also recommend faster routes for those who don’t mind mixing with cars.

“Every time you search Ride the City, we look through more than 125,000 records in a database. Most of that data comes from the City’s LION GIS data. The City’s LION file does not contain bicycle facility data, so we made a Freedom of Information Act request to the NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Department of City Planning. That got us a little closer, but we still had to put in dozens of hours of data cleanup to get everything working more-or-less correctly.”

“Sometimes the most daunting thing about riding a bike in New York is figuring out the best route to take. How do you get to the bridge entrances? What’s the best way to Central Park from the Hudson River greenway? We created this website to help beginning bicyclists answer those questions,” founder Jordan Anderson told TechCrunch.com. He runs the site with fellow cyclists Vaidila Kungys and Josh Steinbauer.

According to the trio, Ride the City was built almost exclusively from open source software and tools.

londoncyclenetwork
LONDON MAPS
TfL’s Journey Planner is complex but you can soon drill down to the transport options you want, including cycling. After typing in start and end points, the system gives an esitmated average journey time and a map.

The London Cycle Network map (requires registration) uses A-Z mapping and you can click to choose overlays, such as National Cycle Network routes or London Cycle Network bike routes.

TRANSPORT DIRECT
Shockingly, the Department for Transport funded UK Transport Direct journey planner does not contain bike route info despite this proud boast: “Transport Direct is a world first. We are the first ever web site to provide national coverage for information about all types of transport.”

However, Martin Whitfield of print map making company CycleCity Guides said his company is to “to add a cycling layer into Transport Direct’s existing multi-modal journey planner.”

bbbike1

BBBIKE
Taking your bike to Berlin? This is a great route finder, and it has an English language option, too. It’s open source - PERL, in fact - and has a myriad of options, making it one of the best featured of all online bike route maps.

Like all other route finders you enter starting position and destination as well as any ‘via’ points. But you can also choose your likely average speed, whether you want to mix with traffic or take side streets, whether you want to include bike paths, and there’s also data on current weather so you can upgrade or downgrade your probable speed given the likely road conditions.

BBBike can also be downloaded to laptops for offline route-finding.

routecraft
ROUTECRAFT
Naturally, as one of the most bike friendly places on the planet, Amsterdam has an online routefinder that knocks the socks off most others. In fact, Routecraft is for cars, too. But hit the bike symbol and you select the cycle planner. Type your start point or drop the bike on to the map. Type your end point or drop on the chequered flag. Hit ‘find route’ and you’re done, with a resulting map route and turn by turn directions. Routecraft calculates the distance but, neatly, also tells you how many trees you’ve saved by not driving. It’s what’s motorists would no doubt consider to be a smug-o-meter.

routemobile_large
Routecraft also has live roadworks info and a traffic blackspot option.

Best of all, though, Routecraft Bikeplanner is also available to use on a mobile phone. You need one with an internet connection and which can run Abobe Flash Lite.

2818998173_03298826b4
DIY PRINTED MAPS
On 6th September, Richmond, Indiana, became a bike-friendlier place. It now has its own bike route map. It wasn’t funded by the locality, it was pushed through by cyclist Mark Strosberg. His inspirational website details how we went about the task, from creating the routes through to raising the funds.

“I hope that by sharing may experience in this project it may guide other motivated citizens who would like official bike routes in their towns, but don’t want to wait until their cities have both the time and the money to produce them on their own,” said Strosberg.

“Anyone is welcome to design and print a map, and it is experienced cyclists, not city bureaucrats, who are most qualified to determine what recommended bike routes should be.”

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Like this article? It’s an extract from the Bike to Work Book, available in November from Amazon.com. Get the free podcast for the book. A larger extract of the book will be available as a PDF soon.

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Sep 09, 2008

Will London ‘can the car’?


No. But it’s a good experiment anyway.

BBC London 94.9 Breakfast is leading a campaign to get listeners to travel in London tomorrow without their cars.

“With higher fuel prices and the green argument, our experiment will aim to find out whether we can really do without our four wheels in London.”

Can the Car for the school run. Can the car for work. Can the car for rest and play as well.

For one day on Wednesday September 10th let’s see if we can do it. Let’s all Can the Car…



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Sep 08, 2008

Yet another world leader turns out to be a cyclist


President Bush is still the world’s most powerful cyclist but he’s not the only bike nut prez.

President Jean Pierre Nkuriziza, the top man in Uganda, “rides a bicycle once in a while from his presidential lodge at Ngozi to Bujumbura, a distance of over 90 kilometres in four hours.”

But he’s not just keen on bikes, he’s a fully signed up member of the God Squad. He recently enacted a law to make all Ugandan mobile phone operators send daily Bible readings to their subscribers. No doubt this greatly pleases Uganda’s Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.



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Sep 07, 2008

Follow Tour of Britain on Twitter


RockRacingTwitterGuy

Want up to the second coverage of the Tour of Britain? Join the Twitter feed of @RockRacing. This is produced by Rock Racing’s PR man Sean Weide, pictured above.

He lined me up a one-on-one interview with Tyler Hamilton before the start of today’s start of the Tour of Britain in London.

I won’t be embedded with the whole race but it’ll be fun on stage six - that from Darlington to Newcastle-Gateshead - because I’ll be with 20 school-kids, members of the school cycling club which I coach.

One of these kids is Josh, my ten year old son. He was with me in London today. He took a cracking headshot of Tyler:

TylerHamiltonByJoshReid4

In fact, there are four of Josh’s shots on this flickr set. The above is my favourite because of Tyler’s bokeh hand.

Some of the first ToB pix are below and there’s a recording of my interview with Tyler. This might have ended in disaster (many people no doubt wish it had, Tyler is hated by many, although precious few of these haters will have read Christopher Campbell’s dissent in the USADA vs Hamilton blood doping case) as my digital tape recorder died the death on me, seconds before I was to start the interview.

I improvised, grabbing my small video camera instead, and filmed Tyler’s chest as I grabbed some audio. The quality isn’t perfect (a generator on a team bus kicked in as I pressed record) but audio can be found here as an MP3 direct-listen or on iTunes. The US champion talked about the special Tour of Britain team kit, and his recent US Championships win, a Phelpsian skin-of-a-pudding kind of victory.

tourfinish

Above, plenty of people were watching the fast and furious finish of the first stage. Petacchi, in his first race after suspension, won by a country mile.

joshbradley

Josh with gold medallist Bradley Wiggins.

joburt

Cartoonist Jo Burt with the new British Cycling mascot, drawn by the Mint Sauce creator and seen here much larger than life.

harrods

The Rock Racing team - the so-called ‘bad boys’ of the pro peleton - had London-specific kit today, promoting the brand’s appearance in Harrods. For the rest of the Tour the team with sport ToB-specific strips.

fastfreddy

‘Fast’ Freddy Rodriguez seen getting on the Tour of Britain specific Fuji machine. This will be available as special edition bike in the bike store concession in Harrods. The team will be in store at the end of the Tour.



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Sep 05, 2008

Motorists can save cash and carbon - and lives - by driving more efficiently


A poll on Moneysavingexpert.com reports that, because of the credit crunch and petrol price hikes, 22 percent of the site’s readers are now driving “less aggressively/more efficiently.” 13 percent are driving less.

Drivers who rev away from traffic lights and try to make tiny gains are not just rude and dumb, they’re also wasting lots of money. If it was pointed out to them that driving less aggressively could actually save them hundreds of pounds a year this might have a more dramatic effect on car speeds than any amount of ’speed kills’ promotions.

The average motoring citizen in the UK doesn’t give a stuff about the safety of pedestrians or cyclists. The trend towards more and more aggressive driving is not from just ‘Boy Racers’ but yummy mummies in their SUVs and nurses rushing to work (I’ve witnessed the senseless urban speeding of all these stereotypes recently).

Until the UK adopts the EU Fifth Motoring Directive (fat chance) motorists will continue to drive unthinkingly fast on city streets but a Government publicity campaign explaining how efficient driving is a big money saver could be a real winner. For all concerned.

Cheaperior

Moneysavingexpert.com is a HUGE website. In August there were 5.49 million unique visitors. Site owner Martin Lewis gets his many staff to send out a weekly email to 2,433,040 signed-up recipients. Most of the readers are Daily Mail types (just 1 percent read the Financial Times). Some already admit to being slow and careful “grand-dad drivers” but with such a massive readership, Lewis’ advice on driving more efficiently could be making more motorists slow down, improving safety for vulnerable roads users.

In this poll Lewis asked: “Have high fuel costs changed the way you drive?”

The price of petrol is at a record high. There are three main ways to cut the cost of fuel; you can drive more efficiently, up your car/van/bike’s efficiency via decluttering and other tricks, and use comparison sites to find cheaper fuel. Which of the following best describes changes you’ve made in the last two years?

The answers were: (emphasis my own)

I use the car less. 13%
I drive less aggressively/more efficiently: 22%
I’ve decluttered the car/made it more efficient. 1%
I use the car less AND drive less aggressively. 13% (this is an interesting stat!)
I drive less aggressively AND have decluttered the car. 6%
I use the car less AND have decluttered it. 3%
All the methods above. 14%
I don’t drive. 5%
I got rid of my car. 2%
I made all these changes more than two years ago. 6%
I’ve not changed at all. 17% (dimwits)

3895 people have voted to date. Sadly there was no answer ‘I now use my bicycle as well as my car.’

Lewis has written earlier stories on more efficient driving.

It’s possible to drive the same distance in the same time, yet use considerably less fuel. It’s simply about driving more smoothly to boost your fuel efficiency.

Accelerate gradually without over-revving. Speed up smoothly; when you press harder on the pedal more fuel flows, but you could get to the same speed using much less power – a good rule is to stay under 3,000 revs.

Think about road position. To do all this takes road awareness, so the more alert you are, the better you can plan ahead and move gradually.

In many ways this all comes down to one little rule of thumb…

Every time you put your foot on the accelerator, remember the harder you press the more fuel you spend.”

Amen to that!



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Sep 05, 2008

Petrolheads: here’s your future


A PR stunt in London has shown us a glimpse of the future. Electronic Arts has taken over the Last Stop garage in Finsbury Park, north London, to promote the game Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. The company is giving away £20,000 worth of petrol: any motorist can queue up to get £40 of free car juice. Naturally, it’s all turned into a Mad Max style rampage.

According to the Press Association, by 7.30am more than 150 customers had taken advantage of the offer but “tempers were starting to fray during the rush-hour.”

A queue of about 30 cars snaked its way from the petrol station as more and more customers arrived for their free fuel.

Car horns sounded repeatedly as drivers on the other side of the road got snarled up in the congestion.

But customers filling up for nothing were very happy.

Prince Davis, 37, who queued patiently for a quarter of an hour for free petrol, said: “This is a genius idea, whoever thought of this should be promoted.”

But one local resident was less than impressed.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “What an extraordinary thing to do, it’s totally irresponsible. I can’t believe they’ve been allowed to do it.

“This area is usually very quiet but look at it now, there’s cars queuing everywhere.”

Louise Marchant, from Electronic Arts, said the scenes of queuing mimicked aspects of the game: “It’s set in Venezuela, you play a mercenary and fuel is used as a currency.”

The PR stunt involved turning the petrol station into a military-style bunker, with “jeeps, oil barrels, sandbag walls, and fully-costumed actors on hand to pump the petrol for the customers.”

Ha-ha, very funny. But with oil running out, such scenes may one day be played out for real. Drive everywhere? Get ready for your future.

Want to wean yourself away from your ‘gas dependancy’? Sign up - it’s free - for the Bike to Work Book.

NB
The first PDF is a tad late. It should have been produced at the end of August, expect it to be released in mid-September. The print book is still on schedule for November, an ideal Christmas present!



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Sep 02, 2008

Real life ambassador becomes Oz bike-to-work ambassador


NRTWD_rondel_Low_res

“Mrs Ambassador, with these bicycles, you are really spoiling us!”

Susanne Shine, Denmark’s ambassador to Australia, has become a National Ride to Work Day Ambassador. The Danish Embassy and Consulate will take part in Australia’s National Ride to Work Day on Wednesday 15 October.

Denmark has a strong bicycle culture: every day one in three in Copenhagen gets on their bikes to go to work. This adds up to 1.2 million kilometres on bikes each day, or one kilometre by bike per citizen each year.

Bicycle Victoria’s National Ride to Work day was recently launched by Peter Garrett, former lead singer of Oz indie band Midnight Oil, and now the Federal Minister for the Environment

rsl

The ‘Oils’ were renowned for their fierce independent stance and active support of a range of contemporary concerns including the plight of homeless youth, indigenous people’s rights and protection of the environment.

The band’s protest and benefit shows, notably the anti-Exxon performance on a truck-top in the streets of New York and, of course, the ’sorry suits’ performance at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony were hallmarks of a thirteen-album career culminating in the ARIA lifetime achievement award in 2006.

NB
A PDF primer for the Bike to Work Book will be released shortly, containing nuggets of information for cycle commuter newbies and inspiration from Denmark.



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Sep 02, 2008

Soapy spy shot from Eurobike


Charge Bikes had an utterly brilliant loveit/hateit stand at last year’s Cycle Show. It was a faux kitchen, the kind you’d see in a squat or a drug den or basically any student’s flat. Last year’s story here.

Nick Larsen of Charge Bikes is currently working on his booth in Friedrichshafen and has sent this shot of the micro-brand’s Eurobike effort, a launderette. Genius.

ChargeStand

Still to install is a lamp-post and a bike rack, to which the Charge bikes will be attached.



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