Bikeshare bike at PT's Cafe

How Bicycling Benefits You

Bicycling, whether you ride or not, benefits you. Bicyclists make your commute safer, easier, healthier, and cheaper.

Safer: Cities with high rates of cycling see fewer traffic injuries and fatalities, and in some cases cut these risks in half (PDF).

Easier: When bicycle infrastructure exists, traffic flows more smoothly. For drivers, that means less time spent in traffic, and less money spent on gas.

Healthier: Every person who bikes to work saves a half gallon of gas, and prevents 10 pounds of carbon dioxide from being added to the air every day. That can add up to almost two tons of CO2 and 200 gallons of gas – per person, per year.

Cheaper: Finally, bicycling is good for the economy. The return on investment for cycling infrastructure is in some cases 12 to 1. Missouri’s Katy Trail brings total economic effects of more than $18 million every year. The city of Seville, Spain, decided bicycling was valuable and important enough to spend $43 million on a world-class network. And one of the more dramatic examples – Iowa gives bicycling credit for $1 million per day (PDF).

If you’re starting to think favorably about bicycling, it’s time to get involved. 

Bikeshare: an inexpensive way to start

Next to walking – bicycling is just about the cheapest way to travel. But buying, storing, and maintaining a good bike can add up over the course of a year. So the absolute cheapest way to commute by bike is by using bikeshare. In Topeka in the spring of 2015, you’ll be able to get a year-long membership to Topeka Metro Bikes for $25. That will let you check out a bike for two hours, every day for a year, for free. You could ride 6,000 miles in that time! What’s more – you’ll never have to fix a flat tire, lug a bike up to your balcony, or hang it on your car. When you’re done with a ride, just lock the bike up at a good bike rack, and forget about it. (Shameless plug)

Bike-friendly tips for retail & small business

Good news for business owners – bicyclists spend more money than motorists. A recent study (PDF) found that cyclists may not spend as much per visit as motorists, but they make more visits to retail businesses than motorists, and are likely to spend more in a month. That’s all the more reason to make minimal effort to accommodate bicyclists.

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Microcosm Publishing has great stickers!

What are some ways to do that? The first one is really, really simple. Put a picture of a bike on the front of your store. Just a smaller sticker by the door will do. This is totally serious – but it also carries a commitment with it: You have to promise not to grimace when cyclists waddle in, carrying helmets, and wearing skin-tight lycra. You don’t have to talk about bikes, or physical activity at all – a simple comment on the weather will do just fine.

Next, consider installing a bike rack near your front door for visitors – or somewhere secure and tucked away for employees. You have car-parking, don’t you? And sidewalks? Don’t forget about bikes! But please, if you’re thinking about getting a bike rack – don’t just go out and buy the first one you find. The kinds of racks that support wheels, but not bike frames, can actually damage bicycles, and they’re not very secure. The Topeka Community Cycle Project has you covered – they can help you get a great bike rack, in almost any color.

How to get involved in Topeka

Sign up for a bikeshare membership! Topeka is launching the state’s first bikeshare system, and it’s only a pilot phase. If it’s not successful, it may not last. (Shameless plug)

If you’re a business owner, get a bike rack! (See above).

Consider participating in WorkWell Shawnee County, Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, Safe Streets, or any other coalition or group working on behalf of residents. These groups are all making it easier for people to live healthy lifestyles.

Employers – offer the bike commuter tax benefit to your employees who ride often. Healthy employees are happier, take fewer sick days, and are more productive.

Set up a placed-based promotion with the local bikeshare system – encourage bikeshare users to visit you.

Learn more

Read Bikenomics by Elly Blue. This is the be-all, end-all compendium of practical bicycling economics. Her series at Grist makes a nice introduction.

Visit the Topeka Community Cycle Project to meet bike commuters, and learn to work on your own bike, or visit Capp’s Bike Shop or Jerry’s Bike Shop to meet expert mechanics and pick up useful gear – or a new bike!

Show up for Bike Month events in May 2015 – starting with Dinner & Bikes!

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In praise of baskets

10729311_356503034527321_1797813743_nThe most useful feature a bicycle can have, after wheels, and maybe a seat — is a basket! Nothing makes it easier to live the bicycle lifestyle than simple, practical cargo capacity.

We don’t always live in ways which are suited for panniers or luggage racks — especially if we’re used to hopping in a car and tossing bags and kit in the floorboards or on the passenger seat. A basket can really augment a bicycle’s ease of use – especially if you have some sort of bungee cord over the top of it, to keep things from jumping out en route. It’s not practical to put a loaf of bread on a luggage rack, or in a pannier, where it might get crushed. Enter the basket!

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Baskets aren’t for every bike and every person, but they’re a great place to start. A lot of inspiration can be drawn from various Flickr groups – like Lovely Bicycle Baskets, 2 Mile Challenge – By Bike, and the Rivendell Bicycles pool. Go see for yourself!

So, do you use a basket? What cargo-carrying method is your preference?

200 lbs and 10 winners

What a weekend!

Saturday marked the Topeka Community Cycle Project’s fifth annual Flat Tire party, and Sunday saw the second run of Bike Topeka’s Cranksgiving event. Both were complete successes!

The food drive had 10 participants, and gathered more than 200 lbs. of food for Washburn’s new foodbank, The Exchange.

November events: Flat Tire V and Cranksgiving II

November in Topeka will be a great time for bike events!

flat-tire-vThe Topeka Community Cycle Project is sure to please with its Fifth Annual Flat Tire party, which will feature the musical stylings of Zack Mufasa and Slow Ya Roll, interactive entertainment in the form of live T-shirt screenprinting, Speedy Spokes roller races, and bike-blend-your-own drinks! The event happens Saturday, Nov. 15, 7pm-2am at the Celtic Fox downtown. For more details, check out the event on Facebook.


vintage-postcard-thanksgiving-turkey-bicycle-187If partying just isn’t enough for you to get your bike fix, roll out the next day to the Burger Stand for the second annual Cranksgiving event, a scavenger hunt / food-drive mashup, on wheels. Registration starts promptly at 2pm on Sunday, Nov. 16, at the Burger Stand, and the competitive ride rolls at 2:30 sharp. Contestants will have 90 minutes to complete the challenge. Stay tuned on Facebook.

NYC Comptroller urges investment in pedestrian infrastructure

Check out this press release from NYC. The City’s Comptroller is reporting that claims against the city have cost NYC taxpayers almost $90 million. Clearly there is a financial case for investing in pedestrian (and cyclist) infrastructure. If bad roads are killing and injuring people — not to mention, costing the city millions of dollars, isn’t it time to make them better?

This line is especially sweet:

“The City should employ best practices to reduce risk to pedestrians, examine the hot spots identified by this data and determine whether additional traffic calming measures may be needed,” Stringer said.

Is Wall Street Making a Killing off Cities’ Debt? – Next City

Is Wall Street Making a Killing off Cities’ Debt? – Next City.

Most cities are relying on debt to finance wide swaths of infrastructure, or economic development, or public works projects. We’ve grown too big for our britches, and infrastructure is a huge part of the problem. Property taxes collected no longer cover the costs of the cities we’ve built.