Friday, March 25, 2016

Spring is the Best Time of the Year for Biking to Work

Spring is probably when I'm most grateful that I get to ride my bike to work. Its the perfect temperature - no need for a jacket and not yet hot enough to get sweaty.

My driveway is brightly adorned:

The scenery along the route largely looks like this:

Even crossing Six Forks is peaceful. The pedestrian crossing here takes a while, but its one of the only mid-block crossing signals around and its great. All the traffic stops and there's no turning traffic. 

Waiting for the light is a great opportunity to meet the bus riders and sip some coffee. 

And the smell of lilac greets me at work:

The days last longer and I'm more inspired to make side trips:

I'm often offered a ride when my friends are headed the same way as me in their cars, but this is not a ride I'd easily give up. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Coronado Circle Open Space Cleanup


Please join us to help reclaim Coronado Circle City Open Space!

Our first project will be from 9 AM to noon on April 2nd, 2016. I invite anyone who is interested to join us and participate in pulling ivy, pruning, and landscape planning! Here is a link to the release the city will require all volunteers to sign: cached release form (

We will also have forms available at the time of the event for you to sign. The city asks that we all wear long pants and close-toed shoes and they will provide gloves and tools for us.

Coffee and doughnuts will be available for all volunteers from my family; Leigh Bragassa, the city's Invasives Program Coordinator, has promised drinks and snacks.

The circle is located in front of 5215 Coronado Dr, between the intersections with Manchester Dr. and Gunnison Pl. The city will provide materials and guidance and will organize volunteers from other parts of the city who will come help with the labor.

project location, across from 5215 Coronado Dr


The City of Raleigh owns dozens of small pockets of open space across the city that are managed by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. The city allows citizen volunteers to adopt these sites and partner with the city to make improvements. I've signed an agreement with the City of Raleigh Parks department to clean up and maintain the Coronado Drive Open Space circle.

As the signatory, I have agreed to perform at least 4 projects per year, the nature of which will be determined by myself with approval from the appropriate city departments. I would like to survey the opinions of everyone in the neighborhood, especially those of us who live on Coronado Dr. as to how everyone would like to see the parcel handled.

The first step will be to clean up debris and remove the english ivy that is threatening to take over and damage many of the mature trees growing there. Further projects will continue the cleanup and begin landscaping and maintenance to create a space we can all enjoy and use.

ivy infestation at Coronado Circle
Link to Raleigh's Invasive Species Program:

About 20 years ago a similar agreement was in place led by Mr. Roberts, formerly a resident on Coronado Dr. You can still see the birdhouse (donated by the Parkers) and some of the landscaping plantings installed at that time. There was also a mulched path through the center of the circle.
some planting remain from last neighborhood effort
Some of the projects I've considered include landscaping, restoration of the path, installation of doggie bag dispensers and refuse bins, a picnic table and a mini-library. However, I'd like to hear from my neighbors and create a vision together.

If you have any questions or ideas, please post in the comments below. You can also contact the parks volunteer coordinators, Ashley Deans and Leigh Bragassa. Their contact information, and more details about the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Volunteer Program is located at this link:

 Look forward to seeing everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to Ride Your Bike in a Thunderstorm

Step 1

Carefully select and prepare your gear:
Coffee? Check!

Step 2

Sit in the steel reinforced office building and watch the storm from behind strong windows. Flee to stairwell if necessary:

Step 3

Wait till the storm passes and hop on the bike.

just after the storm on Millbrook Rd.

power lines down on Wake Forest Rd.
overloaded storm drain off Six Forks

On Street Parking

North Hills Drive, Thursday 7am
This is an example of the parking residents fought to save in objecting to the installation of dual bike lanes.

I don't understand the mentality that argues that storage of private property on the public right-of-way should take precedence over the full and best use of a transportation corridor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Finally Car-Free

(Maybe not car-free, but car lite. I still have access to family member's cars when the need arises.)

In October, my family and I moved closer to my job, which has put all of the major stops in my normal life within easy biking distance. Mother's car was totaled, and I gave her my car, leaving me with biking as primary transportation.

Then in December, my faithful Surly LHT bit the dust:
This bike carried me across the American Southwest, and has provided me with thousands of miles of reliable transportation and fun. Someday I hope to get the cracked frame welded, but for now this bike does naught but take up storage space.

It was very sad to see the Surly go, but this cleared the field for my first new bike in ten years! After researching commuting bikes, I received go ahead from the familial budgeting office to splurge and get a dedicated commuter - with belt drive, internally geared hubs, integrated front and rear lights powered by a hub dynamo, hydraulic disc brakes and plenty of cargo capacity. Though it runs a bit less efficiently than my Surly, it is quiet, smooth, and I don't have to rig it up every time I go out - just strap on the bags and go!

Using a bike as primary transportation has been easy and fun these past few months. I save loads of money and improve my health each time I replace a car trip with the bike. Despite this and the light and friendly traffic in and around North Hills, I have seen only one or two others in the area that commute by bike. Hopefully that will increase when the weather turns warmer. I hope that by writing about how easy and efficient this choice is, and by being visible out in my neighborhood on bike nearly every day, I can convince those who are interested and able to join me to make cycling a viable and normal choice for transportation in Midtown Raleigh.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Difference of a Week

What a difference in my anti-car crusade the last two weeks has made!

While in San Diego, I never had to drive and was able to walk anywhere I needed to go.

Last week I flew to Grand Rapids for a friend Kris' wedding, and it was a car bonanza! I rented a car upon arrival and drove to my friend's apartment for the afternoon and evening. Kris then drove us to Founder's Brewery (my favorite beer brewer!)

Drove back to the airport the next day to pick up some friends, then to Holland, MI for our hotel, then to Saugatuck for the rehearsal dinner, and back to Holland for the night. Next day we drove from Holland to Grand Rapids (40 miles) to drop off an extra rental car picked up along the way, then back to Suagatuck for the wedding
and back to Holland for the night. Finally on Sunday, the 50 min drive back to Grand Rapids for my flight home.

I drove more miles in that one long weekend than I normally do in two weeks of my normal life in Raleigh. Aside from all the driving, it was an excellent trip, and possibly the most fun I've ever had at a wedding (that might include my own, of which I don't remember very much)

Back in Raleigh on Monday, I skipped riding my bike to work because I "had" to drive to Carrboro to pick up, via Craigslist, an absolutely vital (what I told my wife) piece of equipment to support my emerging beer brewing hobby. 

Finally got back into the swing of things on Wednesday. After picking up my wife at the airport in the morning, I drove to work with the bike on top of the car and bike home that afternoon. Today I biked to work and will drive home, picking up a keg full of homebrew on the way.

As if all this driving around weren't enough of a blow to my biking initiative, I suffered a huge setback on Tuesday. While going through my normal weightlifting routine, I severed the tendon holding my bicep to my shoulder. It doesn't hurt much, but it is possible it will need surgery. If I do go under the knife (I'm really sick of hospitals), I can't imagine my doctor will allow me to get back on the bike for several weeks. I'm really hoping they tell me that I don't need surgical intervention as long as I don't mind the new contours (referred to as "Popeye-Arm" in the literature) of my left arm.

I see the orthopedist tomorrow morning, and as long as I keep my mind off it, I avoid being worried sick. I was out of commission for 8 weeks last summer with an infection in my knee, the surgery to repair it and the resulting recovery period. I'd really like to avoid a repeat. Wish me luck....

Friday, July 19, 2013

Can Car Type Predict Anti-Bike Behavior?

I saw this article in Slate today:

The author proposes that BMW drivers are more likely to crowd cyclists on the road than drivers of other car types. Not scientific at all, but it reflects my own perception. But perhaps that is just my own bias, as BMW's stand out more than many other car makes.

I'll add that the amount of space a driver's car takes up correlates positively with the driver's intolerance for sharing road space. Drivers of pick-up trucks and SUVs are much more likely than drivers of sedans to try to squeeze past me when its not safe. Minivan drivers fit somewhere in the middle, unless the vehicle is full of kids, in which case behavior deteriorates. Sports car drivers, being inherently aggressive drivers, are also pretty bad offenders.

The worst are the small truck professional drivers. Box trucks and landscaping trucks with trailers are often the worst. I attribute this to personal driver skill and behavior and minimal training coupled with industrial size vehicles.

Surprisingly, the most courteous drivers that pass me are the 18 wheeler drivers. They almost universally pass only when safe and with more than adequate passing space. Maybe that's because they recognize my Surly brand bike as being of the "Long Haul Trucker" model and they recognize a kindred spirit. Maybe its because they, alone in the automobile world, accept that with great power comes great responsibility.

Though I've put in tens of thousands of miles in several states developing these perceptions, this is certainly not a scientific study. You have to pay me if you want statistically valid results.