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Weekend Reading: How To Buy Your First Bike From The Bike Shop

Written by Boston Biker on May 10

So good! (Thanks Marianna For the heads up) Read the rest here:

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In 2003 I walked into my local bike shop and bought my first new bike. It was exciting, exhilarating, and even a little scary. Dozens of bikes and 10 years later, I have found myself in a place where I can help others through their first new bike buying experience at the bike shop. I have worked as a bicycle sales associate for almost 8 years, and I have been a professional bike fit specialist since 2007. I have heard and seen just about everything in the bike shop.

 

You have decided that it’s time to head to the bike shop because you need a new bike. Whether it is your first new bike ever, or you’re buying the bike to try a few sprint triathlons or even to participate in the Pan Mass Challenge, there are a few things with which you’ll need to get familiar before busting down the door of your local bike shop.


“I’m not a serious biker” was usually one of the two most popular opening statements I heard when working with someone at the bike shop. First off, YES YOU ARE! Don’t undervalue yourself during our first interaction (or ever, for that matter). I already think that you are a serious biker because you are here at the bike shop to buy a new bike, one of the greatest investments that you will ever make and never regret. Don’t worry–I am not going to judge you because you can’t name the entire Shimano component family. I’ve been there. New bike shopping is exciting and it is a learning experience.

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How To Use A Door Zone Bike Lane Part 2: Attack Of The Door Zone!

Written by Boston Biker on Oct 07

A while ago I wrote about how to use door zone bike lanes. In which I posited the following argument: Bike lanes are good because they draw out more cyclists, and if you are against door zone bike lanes you can either use them properly (as outlined in the article), use streets without bike lanes, or lobby for the removal of on street parking. For the most part no one disagreed with my arguments.

However, some of you responded, “But what about Columbus Ave!” The Columbus Ave. bike lanes are completely door zone (!!), or so some of you said. Being the person of science that I am, I decided to go investigate for myself.

First off I want to set the scene: Wednesday, mid-day. Slightly overcast, with a threat of rain, your typical October day in Boston. I rode down most of the bike lane on one side and did a bit of track back on the other, overall I covered most of the new bike lane.

I have to say that I was pretty shocked by how poor the enforcement was of parking the bike lane, I saw dozens (literally) of cars parked in the bike lane.

A fine example of taking up the entire bike lane!  I wish a cop was around to issue you a ticket...hmmm

A fine example of taking up the entire bike lane! I wish a cop was around to issue you a ticket...hmmm

Yes I know it's a meals on wheels van, but come on there is a parking space RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU...can't you be bothered to pull in, at least the lights are on to warn people...if only a cop was around to fix this...

Yes I know it's a meals on wheels van, but come on there is a parking space RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU...can't you be bothered to pull in, at least the lights are on to warn people...if only a cop was around to fix this...

Yes Officer Car NUPD 18 was parked in a tow zone and had a good chunck of the car hanging out into the bike lane, something the rest of the people in front of him managed to avoid.

Yes Officer Car NUPD 18 was parked in a tow zone and had a good chunk of the car hanging out into the bike lane, something the rest of the people in front of him managed to avoid.

The other thing that seemed strange to me was that the bike lane came and went, replaced in portions with sharrows. For those not “in the know” sharrows, are street markings to indicate that cars are supposed to share the road with bikers (share arrows). These also seemed to be, umm lets say, poorly placed…

Here we have the classic 'twofer', we got the sharrow being PARKED ON, and behind that a car blocking the bike lane.

Here we have the classic 'twofer', we got the sharrow being PARKED ON, and behind that a car blocking the bike lane.

Another car parked directly in front of a sharrow.

Another car parked directly in front of a sharrow.

That looks like a disaster waiting to happen, lets get a closer look...

That looks like a disaster waiting to happen, lets get a closer look...

Holy wow!  Two double parkers, with the sharrow being parked on...how in the hell does this mean "share the road"

Frankly I was appalled with just how much a disaster the sharrow placement seems to be…how is allowing parking OVER the sharrows (not to mention the rampant double parking) supposed to help bikers? I mean…why waist the paint? I think something must have gone wrong someplace because these don’t look like they are placed correctly, or the parking ordinance hasn’t been updated to remove on street parking in these locations…right? This couldn’t have been planed this way? Please someone tell me this was not the plan.

Ok but what about the first question. Is the entire bike lane on Columbus Ave. “in the door zone” as so many have claimed. Lets see.

Here is a good example of the bike lane width (ignore the giant pot hole for now), looks kind of dicey...looks pretty narrow...

Here is a good example of the bike lane width (ignore the giant pot hole for now), looks kind of dicey...looks pretty narrow...

It did look pretty narrow, I would estimate from the picture above that the door zone would be something like this.

bikelanewithdoorzone

But that wasn’t enough for me, I didn’t want “probably door zone” I was hunting for “actual door zone.” I needed some hard science, so I started asking people “hey can I take a picture of you with your door open?” A normal enough thing to ask people, right? And they were more than happy to help out. I want to make it clear, each of these people opened their door for me, at my request, they are all helpful nice people and were not trying to kill me. (I have highlighted “actual door zone” on each of these in red, the green would thus be the “non-door zone”)

Note: I added a bit more red to this because this guy had managed to get his car pretty far over, but as you can see you have room on the left.

Note: I added a bit more red to this because this guy had managed to get his car pretty far over, but as you can see you have room on the left.

But “that’s a car” you say, but “he is pulled way over” you say. What about a truck? Well I was lucky enough to run into this guy, who was very helpful and actually really nice.

truckwithdooropen

As you can see even with a truck door there is still space on the left hand side for a biker. When I explained to this guy what I was doing he did something that really made me happy.

100_3366

He got out his freaking measuring tape, seriously this is my kind of guy. Here is what he found.

56inch

It’s kind of hard to see, but there was 26 inches of clearance from the end of his door to the left of the white line.

So what does all this mean? Basically there are some serious problems with double parking and sharrow design on Columbus Ave. But the Columbus Ave. bike lane is NOT all door zone. It is narrow, but it most certainly is not all door zone. If you use the same strategy I suggest in my first post about door zone bike lanes you should be just fine. I would recommend you ride on the left white line when using this bike lane, if used in this way you will easily avoid opening doors.

I have talked to a lot of people and a large majority (almost all of them) want more bike lanes. The bike lanes might make them safer, they might not (I honestly don’t know) but what I do know is that painting bike lanes makes more people feel comfortable riding. And that is a very good thing. Clearly however poorly designed infrastructure (sharrows with parking on them?!) can lead to confusion and injury, but a “door zone” bike lane, even a narrow one like Columbus Ave. can be safely used if the people are educated. In a perfect world, all bike lanes would be wide as the street and no cars would be allowed to park near them. We of course do not live in a perfect world, so we deal with what we have. It is embarrassing how poorly laid out the sharrows are and how bad the double parking is on Columbus Ave. But that in no way makes the bike lane “all door zone” or unusable.

Because education is needed to use these facilities safely (you had to get educated to drive your car safely as well) and not everyone is going to read this blog, I suggest that for all door zone bike lanes a sign like this be posted.

doorzonesign

Ride to the left people, stay out of the door zone!


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The Word On The Street

  • RSS Here is what people are saying

    • Do You Want Protected Bike Lanes On The Longfellow? April 13, 2018
      TweetFrom Cambridge Bike Safety: The Longfellow Bridge, a critical bike connector to Boston, is going to be restriped and reopened in May. You may be surprised to learn that in the final design, the inbound bike lane will be similar … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 7 April 7, 2018
      TweetThis is better! A sunny, somewhat cool spring day. Me on my bike, my daughter on a trail-a-bike, and my son on his bike. We rode down the Southwest Corridor, stopped at Ula Cafe for lunch, rode over by Jamaica … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt should be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • Riding Lexington Street, Waltham, July 4, 2015 April 7, 2018
      TweetIt shoudl be noted that bike lanes have been installed on much of the stretch of Lexington Street shown in the videos. Videos showing the new conditions are in preparation. Two videos, for now: A demonstration of lane control in … Continue reading →
      jsallen
    • #30DaysofBiking Days 3,4,5, and 6 April 6, 2018
      TweetIt’s been cold, rainy, windy, and I’m not sleeping well. These days of biking are short rides on Hubway to get from here to there, head down, and shivering. This is not the joyous Days of Biking I signed up … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 2 April 3, 2018
      Tweet Easter Monday.  The first work day of April.  Today is the day I’m going to start riding my bike to work again! Or not.  Because it’s snowing.  And I’m tired and lazy. But every bit of biking counts no … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • #30DaysofBiking Day 1 April 2, 2018
      TweetI didn’t think I was going to go for a bike ride on Easter Sunday.  As tends to be my habit, I ride less and less in the winter time and then find it hard to get back into the … Continue reading →
      Liam
    • Police Seek Driver Who Struck Cyclist In Hit And Run March 23, 2018
      Tweet Cambridge police are asking for the public’s help in finding a driver who allegedly struck a 14-year-old boy on the morning of March 15 and fled the scene. A silver Toyota Prius struck the boy around 7:22 a.m. that … Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Pewter Cast “Gem” Earrings March 9, 2018
      Carved, cast and made these pewter (lead free) “gem” earrings.  They have a lovely faceted surface that catches the light and has a lot of depth and interesting texture.  My first real effort at making my own beads.  If you lik... Continue reading →
      Boston Biker
    • Silver “Rock” Earrings March 9, 2018
        I carved and cast these silver “rock” earrings for my partner. The hardest part was getting those little jump rings soldered to the top of the “rock” without melting them or the rock…but I did it and she loved them. Continue reading →
      Boston Biker