Tag Archive: cycling

Bicycle friendly cities

I love bicycling – right now I got myself my third bicycle, an Opus Cervin European style – love it. Each bicycle for a different function and purpose, one just for grocery shopping (has a basket), my mountain bike for off road trails mostly, and my new latest bike for good trails. It cruises along just fine. I also watched when in Europe which cities are bicycle friendly. Just found among many sites, this site: [ http://www.virgin-vacations.com/11-most-bike-friendly-cities.aspx ]. I have not been in all of those cities, but some. Must say, that whatever constitutes ‘bicycle friendly’ refers to bicycle infrastructure and facilities more than how many cyclists are sharing the bike lanes (roads or other) making cycling either comfortable or unsafe.
Berlin for example, I spent over 4 months (2010) mostly walking on the side walk, my head turned backward to avoid getting run over by a bike. There are still lots of old cobble stone streets on which a bicycle would have a hard time to ride, therefore they simply ride (rather speeding) on the side walk among the pedestrians. While the cycle lanes on those wide major traffic streets share with public transport – buses nilly-willy, wow ! Scary stuff.
The Netherlands – I had rented a bike for 3 months and using the cycle lanes – separate from the main traffic. Fine and good. But, again so many people, so many bicycles. Difficult to move. In fact, although I cycle a lot – there I accomplished to actually fall over with that bike – to the amusement of the Dutch watching me. The bicycles over there having different brake systems than North America.
I would love to try somewhere in Denmark. Here in Victoria BC Canada, it still is a killer operation. Very few bikes among the traffic, which may be more dangerous than too many. [Safety in numbers.] Despite having bike lanes pasted directly onto the tarmac, which a vehicle driver does not always see or observe. We also out of courtesy give priority to public buses. What we have lies outside the city core – many miles of dedicated bicycle/walk trails, some through wilderness. But one must first get there from home – through heavy downtown traffic. The wonderful thing about our outlying trail system is, that there are now many water fountains, and even bike tools for repairs – for all cyclists to use.

In Canada, a neat bike city had been Ottawa. Or even Edmonton. Effort is being made to improve the situation like Share the Road Program [ http://www.sharetheroad.ca/bicycle-friendly-communities-p138264 ]. I always have the feeling here in Canada, that in spite most people own bicycles they do not use them too much because they do not feel comfortable, because cars still rule. To become comfortable and therefore also a safe rider, one must cycle a lot, at the same time obey the rules. (Incidents do occur: see also my post on “Attacks on cycle trails.” )
[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2014/08/18/cycling-around-langford-bc/ ]


CYCLING – now and then. I cycle whenever the weather permits. I also love my bicycles. Now in Canada distances are extreme. Thinking back to my youth when we made one week cycling tours with a school class, we may have only covered up to 30 km in one week. Today, 30 km is a trip of 2 hours, taking my time.  Just the other week I got myself a new bicycle, with larger wheels and smaller tires and lighter than my mountain bike. Here in Canada – even in the city – roads go up and down, sometimes quite steep. Lots of leg strength needed. Since I do not got off-road anymore, I preferred a lighter, faster and still comfortable bike. Testing the other day on  the trail, I love it. Around Vancouver Island we have many good and long bike trails outside the city, some going through stretches of wilderness. Lately a couple of cougars had been roaming around the outlying areas where cycle trails are, one of the big cats unfortunately got shot (to protect cyclists).  That is why I now mostly go up north of the city towards the end of this peninsula. Not so lonely. Of course you always must watch out. Inside the city, also unfortunately some nasty people who dislike cyclists had strung wires across some city streets, that tripped cyclists.  With cycling, it is always WATCH THE ROAD and around you (s.a. my previous post [ http://renataveritasopinion.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/cycling-tips-observations/ ] ).  Here is a nice little tidbit from the past: During WW2 bicycles were at a premium, because the military machine had confiscated all cars from their owners. Thus, the bicycle was often the only means for civilians to get to a bunker during the heavy bombings by the allies. Bicycle theft was also severely punished, often with the death penalty. Good stuff !  [A couple of cycling photos included.] image0096 image0101tofino_2011 007

[ http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Cougar+killed+after+chasing+woman+popular+Vancouver+Island+trail/9900263/story.html ]

Couple of days ago (June 2014), near a popular walk/bike trail west of Victoria, BC. Knowing cougars, quite obviously when the big cat went towards the woman (who reported she was chased) the woman started running, triggering the natural instinct of a big cat and run after her. Was that really necessary to shoot the animal ?
According to today’s interview with Wildlife authorities, to tranquilize a wild animal and ship it back into wild and less populated areas is too stressful.
I know this area very well and I cycle a lot on that trail alone, and I always watch up and above along the rocks lining this section of trail – cats like to hang out high on rocks. Never had the opportunity to spot a cougar. On Vancouver Island encounters are although rare but happen time and again.
I am against the practice of killing a wild animal like the cougar, especially in our areas where there are cougars all around us and try to survive in the close vicinity of too highly populated areas like Langford, Western Communities.
(See also my post on cougars Vancouver Island: [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2013/09/10/cougars-on-vancouver-island/ ])

Bicycling – little tips

BYCICLING or Cycling – one of the most rewarding activities and exercises. Once the bitter cold slowly gives way to (rather late spring), we see more bicycles on the road. Not like in some European countries, though, which have more bicycles on the road than automobiles. Here, just a few. But we are blessed with a rather long out-of-city (Victoria, Vancouver Island) trail system, shared by bicycles and walkers. Because there are not so many bicycles sharing the rather busy vehicles road system, nor are there sufficient inner-city dedicated bicycle lanes, cycling becomes more dangerous. Road safety tips:
Always wear brightly coloured clothing – preferably bright red or yellow. Bicycle helmets are mandatory (unlike in Europe). Regularly look over your shoulder, even if you have a little rear-view mirror somewhere. Know your right ‘to share the road’ – meaning if you are on a bicycle on a major city road with three vehicle lanes, stay in the outer right lane, but not too far over; a car will always take your rightful space and push you even more over to the right. When turning right or left, use the proper hand signals.
One trick I learned that can save a life. When coming up to an intersection with traffic lights: If the light ahead is still green and, while you approach, the pedestrian light is already flashing red, I slow down already for the yellow. Meaning, never cross that intersection on yellow. In other words, not only do I look at the large overhead light, but also at the pedestrian light.
As far as theft goes; the rule is: whatever is easiest to steal, will be stolen first. Easy items are = the bicycle seat, the front wheel, anything detachable. I invented the use of two bike locks, one to lock the seat together with the rear wheel (more difficult to take in any case) and hang up my helmet with that lock. The second lock chain goes thru the front wheel, the frame and one stable object concreted in (or whatever is there to park you bike).
I also always take with me: a small bike pump and a set of Allan keys (for repairs), or even better, yet, a spare tire tube, and small change for the bus (in case my bicycle becomes incapacitated). Our regular buses all have a front rack system to mount two bikes. Which is wonderful, with those distances here. I put my bike up on the bus rack, take the bus, go somewhere, and cycle back. Going out of town into the more secluded areas (where we do have the occasional cougar), it is also wise – while cycling on the trail system – to look up once a while, not only ahead (in case a big cat looks down on you from the rocks). Not kidding, really !
In May we have the “Bike to Work Week”. I’ll be sitting that out, of course. Might be too dangerous. I cycle alone, it’s safer.  HAPPY CYCLING !