Thursday, 28 June 2012

Sharing is Good; Your Mother Was Right

Two Wheeled Gratification
I've been out here bemoaning the lack of a bicycle(s) almost since day one. Last week I did something about it. No, I didn't do the usual Tom thing of buying another bike (I've considered it). I started taking part in the local bike sharing service called Norisbike. And I am digging it. Observe my sweet ride on the left. Sharp eyes may note that the bike itself is probably not UCI legal. The aerodynamic fairing covering the rear wheel is shaped similar to my aero helmet and likely provides a 2-3% reduction in the drag coefficient (wind tunnel results not yet available). Another triathlon inspired feature is the Bento style basket attached to the handlebar. It appears capable of holding 4 cases of Powerbars or Gels, a 20-pak of 0.5 liter beers or a full pork shoulder dinner complete with Kloss dumplings and red cabbage.  

Like a transition zone?
Some of you may be familiar with the bike sharing concept, it's very popular in Paris (Vélib’) and many other European cities. It was also recently introduced in Montreal (Bixi). Simply stated, for a very low price you pick the bike up from a station like this near where you need it, ride it to your destination and drop it off at a station (hopefully) close to it. As an example the station nearest my apartment is about 300meters away. I can see the one nearest to my office right now. I don't find it quite as well developed as the system in Paris, it's less automated and there aren't quite as many stations. But I love the concept and it suits my purposes very well. Door to door it's exactly the same amount of time whether I take the bike or the U-Bahn (Subway) and bus so I can afford to be very flexible using a bike whenever the spirit moves me and the conditions favour it.

The ironic thing about the well developed system of bike lanes in the city is that it's taking me a while to figure out exactly where to ride. Wherever there is red painted pavement whether it's on the road surface or a part of the sidewalk, that's where I'm supposed to be. But the red painted sections can end abruptly and there's not always an indication where to go. Sometimes the sidewalk sections are bi-directional, sometimes not. And it's not always reliable to do as the locals because they make a pretty liberal interpretation of the rules sometimes. I haven't been honked or yelled at yet in almost two weeks so I'm miles ahead of where I'd be at home.

One last comment on the bikes themselves. They're here for a long time, not a good time. I'm estimating one weighs as much as my three lightest bikes. For a good workout I recommend bench pressing one. Following a nuclear armageddon my prediction is that all that will remain are these bikes. And cockroaches. Maybe they'll even figure out how to ride them.

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