Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Biking in the Anchorage Winter

We came across nocturnal solo biker in downtown Anchorage. Where was he going? only he knows, but we past him on our car as we were coming back home. This is the first of  the Biking in the Anchorage Winter series, so for now I will share this one picture with you.

Notice how this bike has an adapted trailer - quite convenient. I would like to see how it behaves in this type of conditions and with more weight.

 On the other hand and as you leave the downtown,  biking in Anchorage gets reduced to this. This is what a biker in Anchorage during the winter has to deal with.  I would say this is more walking than biking. So much for claiming independence from motor vehicles. Not possible in this city as I see it.  You can see how the sidewalk has been completely covered by the snow that the Muni machines pick up from the road. I'd say that even if the side walk was clear from snow, the sidewalk is for pedestrians. Bikes have no lane, no sidewalk, no space, no warning signs, no respect and this continues to be the case for more than 50% of the city.  As it this was not enough there are those red neck truck owners that throw stuff at you and tell you to get out of the road. Bikers continue to be second class citizens in a city designed and built for the car. There continues to be a complete disconnection between the traffic that bikes reduce and the drivers of motor vehicles in Alaska.

Now, this looks dangerous. This particular rider  goes against traffic to make sure none of these cars will ram him from behind. Granted this year we broke a record snow fall. I had never seen so much snow fall in Anchorage in one year. It is January 24th and the Muni is just now plowing the sidewalks.
I truly admire those that against all odds venture to make the bike their only method of transportation, but frankly, there is a limit and here in Anchorage, riding on the side of the road is very dangerous for many obvious reasons. One of them could be that one of these cars loses control on the snow/ice and you end up being killed.  Point in case - bikers will bike if the infrastructure is there; at least men will.

Women biking around the world... solo or not

Photo - Skalatitude.com
 My question was: do you want to travel around the world. Have you even ever thought about it? I Have... It is my dream, my passion, but I don't have the money yet. However, for those of you that have been thinking about it there is a compilation of resources that might give you some insight, so at first I wanted to give you a general list of people biking around the world, but as I did  my research I found something even more amazing, which is WOMEN biking solo around the world. That is a lot of courage...
Here it is:
Marija Kozin
NZ 2 UK by Bike
Jasmin Meier
Sabine Studer
Hanna Jacobson
Katie Tibbets

This leads me to another idea and since I have found a whole new flow of information regarding the most adventurer kind of women; I decided to branch my blog into two pages. The second one dedicated to Women Biking. Coming soon...

Thanks to Skalatitude.com

Me and my Bike

I came accross this vdeo by chance. First I was visiting the LGRAB blog and it took me to A most Cilivized Conveyance,which in turn showed me the video.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bicitaxi - An inexpensive way to commute in Colombia

They are everywhere. I suppose it is quite convenient to take one of these from the bus station to your house or back for what would be close to 50 cents. You will mostly see them waiting by the Transmilenio stations or by the supermarkets. Many people use them to travel that last leg from the bus system to their homes when it is quite late to be walking on the streets or when it is raining.
Do you just want to go to the super and not pay for parking? one of these street warriors will take you. Yes, you guessed it, you have to pay for parking there to. That does not guarantee you that your car won't get vandalized or scratched, it just allows you to park. That's what I would do. After all, 50 cents is cheaper than paying four dollars to park your car, the gasoline and the risk.

You will also see them around middle and low income neighborhoods such as this one. In general they make part of what is called in Colombia informal jobs (Trabajo informal). Around 57% of Colombia's labor force occupies an informal occupation. These are occupations that don't contribute to the tax system, but that at the same time don't receive any kind of social benefits. The reason is not always a lack of formal employment, but rather a fear of losing many of the subsidies that the government provides to low income families such as elementary education. We will revisit the topic of labor informality in Latin America in future posting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bikes on Campus

Riding a bicycle in Alaska during the winter months is a bit more challenging than in many other parts of the world. I would say it is due to the frozen and bumpy ground more than the cold and darkness. Temperatures during the months of January and February can easily drop to -20 F, but I know that that would not stop me from riding, nor the fact that it is dark most of the time. With 10:30am sunrises and 4:30pm sunsets, anyone can see that our days in Anchorage are not quite a full days, yet, you will see people riding year-round.

Fortunately for Californians that's not the case as you can see in these pictures.  We visited the University of Stanford in Palo Alto, CA and even though it was not my first time, I wanted Diana to see the bike culture in this beautiful part of the world.

Anchorage gets considerable amounts of permanent snow each year. Let me clarify that permanent snow is that which falls and stays the rest of the winter as opposed to lower 48 snow. That permanent snow will become ice...yes very uneven ice, very bumpy and dangerous for a bicyclist.
If we had a weather that remotely resembled the California one, I know I would probably not own a car. These pictures were taken at the plaza in front of the chapel.

Row after row of parked bicycles

We took this picture as we waited for the shuttle to take us back to Palo Alto. Bikes everywhere :) I see it just normal for someone studying here to move around campus by bike 

Stanford University - Palo Alto, California 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Us biking in San Francisco

We decided to take a short trip to California, to San Francisco since I used to live there and know for a fact that it is a bike friendly place as you can see below.

 We were being nosy at the Nursing Simposium at the Moscone Center in Down Town San Francisco.

Of course we could only take a short ride until our driver decided to ask us about our participation in the simposium. At that point we also realized that the rides were only for all those important nurses and doctors. We ended up having to abandon our ride, but he was nice enough to let us take the pictures and on our way we were.
The Simposium organizers sponsored short rides for the participants so they could see a bit of the nice downtown buildings and public spaces in San Francisco. It was however, nice to just walk with with such a nice weather.

This is when we finally arrived at the Embarcadero, where we saw all those Wall Street protesters. Many homeless people take advantage of the situation as we later discovered. As for us...well we decided to sign up for a couple of bicycles. Our trip was only going to be for three days and by foot - impossible. As you will see, the bikes allowed us to cover much longer distances in the shortest time. I can't wait for San Francisco to establish a share system where we don't have to give our life information to just sing out a bike.
Here we are stoping for a little break by the piers. It looked like they were giving something away, but in reality it was nothing but a lady selling empanadas and all the hungry office people trying to by them :)))

And away we go. I liked the bike lane along the piers and the water.


Perhaps the fact that we took the trip in November helped us see the city without much traffic and/or people.

Here I am locking up the bikes in front of the Old Saint Mary's Cathedral. What a lovely church. Why were were we here? well because there was a free piano concert and we decided to take advantage of it. Well the truth is that it was free, but a donation for the church or perhaps for the pianist was encouraged. We paid $10 for both, which still makes it an inexpensive concert. Taking into consideration that we couuld enjoy the true cathedral sound of the music and the piano was a huge grand... cheap, really cheap.
By the Golden Gate Bridge

This is Diana on the Golden Gate Bridge

And this is me on the bridge
Then on our way back, we took the bus coming from Marin County. It took us back to the Embarcadero where we returned the bikes. The buses are equiped with a very convenient three-bike rack.  When we saw it coming, we felt relieved since it was already 4:30 and we needed to return the bikes at 5:00pm.  There was no way we were going to be able to make it by 5:00 all the way to downtown. But then we noticed that there was a bike in front of the bus... what to do?
The blue uniform was a total coincidence :)

Well, to our surprise, the rack had just the room the two spaces that wee needed for our bikes.
This is me taking the bikes off the bus in DT San francisco.  Quite a nice trip.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guangzhou/Bogota Bus Rapid Transit and Associated Bike Infrastructure


BRT is the first in China to include bike parking in its stations and to connect BRT stations to the subway via tunnels, reducing transfer time. Its twenty-six stations and forty-two bus routes are laid out along Zhongshan Avenue, whose innermost lanes form a 23-kilometer (14.3-mile) dedicated bus corridor linking the city center to the fast-growing eastern section of the city, twenty poorer urban villages, and business and residential areas, meeting the transportation needs for a cross-section of the population.

Guangzhow Before BRT System
Bogota before Transmilenio System
This model high-capacity transportation system, built with minimal infrastructure investment in a short period of time, can be transferred to other locations in China, Asia, and cities around the world as demand for sustainable transportation increases.

Guangzhow after BRT System

Guangzhou, one of the fastest growing cities in the world, has gained almost three million inhabitants in the past decade. The resulting increase in traffic congestion led the city and its agencies, including the Guangzhou Metro Design Institute, to design a new high-capacity public-transit system, the Guangzhou Bus Rapid Transit (GBRT), to help cut carbon emissions, reduce gridlock, and reclaim streets and public spaces for residents. Curitiba, Brazil, developed the first Bus Rapid Transit system, and it has spread to Bogotá, Mexico City, Hanoi, Seoul, Istanbul, and more recently to Ahmedabad and Johannesburg.

Bogota after Transmilenio System

Guangzhou BRT Station
Bogota Transmilenio Station

The GBRT system’s ridership of 800,000 a day,second only to Bogotá’s Transmilenio, surpassesthat of each of the five subway lines. The sustainable system features dedicated bus lanes and infrastructure improvements to move buses 30% faster; intermodal integration with subway lines and a bike-sharing system; and a pre-ticketing smart card, multiple large doors, and flush platforms to reduce boarding time.


One interesting aspect of the Transmilenio is its feeder lines. While red buses circulate along main arteries, smaller green buses circulate in the neighborhoods, picking up passengers for free and feeding them into the main stations. Making feeder buses free (while still recognizing the need for easy access to stations) gave the city a serious incentive to pave bike paths to stations. After all, every twenty or so people who bike to the Transmilenio equal one less green feeder bus that the city needs to operate.

Bogota's Transmilenio Station bike parking

Today, Bogotá is one of the most bike-friendly cities in South America. In addition to paving bike paths, the city set up large, clean and free bicycle storage facilities at the stations, giving people even more incentive to do the first part of their journey to work on two wheels. (treehugger.com)

Credits to:


Monday, October 31, 2011

Street Vending on Wheels

Here are a few pictures of street vendors and distributors that make use of the bicycle to earn a living in Colombia
This lady makes a living by celling candy and cigarettes in a corner of Bogotá. Street vendors must have a license to work these types of jobs.

Even though they don't pedal, these art vendors make use of bike trailers to work

I was completely impressed by this vendor. With only one arm, this gentleman not only bikes, but he also manages to serve ice cream around residential neighborhoods in Bogotá - Colombia

Another Ice Cream vending Tricycle

Anchorage's Coastal Trail

A map of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage covers the perimeter of the city overseeing the Cook Inlet. An impressive sight of water, mountains, snow, birds and occassionally a moose or a bear.

(photo - Ryono.net)
 You can ride the approximately ten miles of coast on the trail while enjoying the views of the Knik Arm and Mount Susitna.

Bici Limo

A special occasion happened to coincide with the pedicab that was peddaling in the area on a rather cold afternoon next to the water by the Anchorage Coastal Trail.
Ready for a Coastal Trail ride with Diana.
Would you believe that my whole family was there?

The Alaska Pedicab Limo

Ciao Bambini!!!

Cargo Bikes

Here is a compilation of work bikes photos taken everywhere I have been.
This is the distribution method of the local grocery store - Bogotá -Colombia

I saw this retired hybrid bike/tricycle in the corner of a parking lot in Chiquinquirá - Boyacá - Colombia

A Currier or a small distributor in Ubaté - Boyacá - Colombia

A passer by with some cargo on his (panadera) cargo bike - Ubaté - Boyacá - Colombia

 Bicycle with two plastic containers
on the back rack.Passerby with small cargo in the front basket

Cargo in the front and in the back - Ubaté - Boyacá - Colombia
Merchandise Distribution - Bogotá - Colombia
Running Errands on a Bike - Ubaté - Boyacá - Colombia
Don't try this at home