Monday, April 30, 2012

Emergency Response - Bicycle to the Rescue

In subsequent posts will attempt to explain why, from my own point of view, the bicycle is the most noble invention.
Now I will leave you with yet another one of those fields in which most of us don't normally think of a bike as being part of, but once again, the bike comes to the rescue.

First I will introduce the bike ambulance. I have decided to introduce this kind of emergency vehicle first because it is my favorite. I favor the bike ambulance over any other because it allows full carriage of the patient, because it is being used in the most underdeveloped places, and because it does not utilize any expensive technology. The same old two wheels and a flat bed that hinges on to a regular bicycle.

Secondly we have the fire fighter bicycle. Would you ever think of a bicycle as a fire engine? Well, it is not really a fire engine, but it certainly carries the most necessary equipment to fire a fight such as the hose, two fire extinguishers, an ax and a fire fighter.  For some reason, I always imagined that the truck carried the water and all needed to suppress the fire, but that is seldom the case in the city. 
 These extra light emergency vehicles can perfectly terminate a automobile fire with one or both bottles.   The hose is probably not the longest, but it will provide plenty of help before more adequate help arrives.  One thing in particular that I like about this bike is that it even has a bell. How fancy can you get?

Finally, let us look at the paramedic bicycle.  Ahh how nice and how smooth.  This emergency response velo might be designed to cover small areas such as a sports arena, a beach, a park, a school, etc.  Whatever the area that you have designed a bicycle to cover, it is clear that we have seen them in action way far from their intended range.  I would think that the only possible limitation of the Emergency Response Bike (EMB) is speed.  Having said that, one of the advantages an EMB has over any other kind of emergency vehicle is accessibility. Not only for their lightness, but also for their size.

An ambulance bicycle or bicycle ambulance (however you want it) can provide the same care a motorized ambulance can. In England this kind of ambulances are equiped with just the same things you will find in a truck fitted for an ambulance. According to the BBC News, in Cambridge:
"The yellow and green mountain bike should be with a patient within minutes, dealing with all the same emergencies as regular ambulances. Equipment on the bike includes oxygen and a defibrillator, together with blue flashing lights and a siren.

The East of England Ambulance Service said the scheme was to be piloted from 17 October for three months.  Darren Rutterford, head of the Cycle Response Unit for the East of England Ambulance Service said: "Cambridge, being a small but densely populated city visited by huge numbers of students, shoppers and tourists, seemed to be the ideal place to base a bike. "Parks, shopping centres, pedestrian areas and heavy traffic are all difficult for traditional ambulances to reach but will become easily accessed with this new scheme."

Thanks to:,,, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,, blog,,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Chevy Campaign vs Bicycle Campaign

I am translating the meaning of these side by side ads. The first one is a Chevy advertisement in South America that attempts to put bicycles down. The second one actually uses the first one to reverse the message. Here it is

Now I am on a bike but...

With ChevyPlan I will have my
Chevrolet 0 Km. from $248,926


Decongesting the streets for free.
To see more, take your bike and pedal
(the images of this ad are real)

Yes, now I drive a car, but...

It is faster on a bike, you have more fun, and you laugh at the congestion
Paying $0

Program yourself with intelligence. Move without stress, without debts, without Chevrolet or any other.

Taken from

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Let's Do the Numbers

I saw this compilation of interesting data at the March/April's edition of AFAR magazine, then I went a little farther and to the sources. I found so much information that I decided to compose several posts in coming weeks because you should have some of this information not only on biking, but also on walking. They go parallel to each other. Biking and walking share the infrastructure more than motor vehicles and pedestrians/bikes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Military Bicycle

US Army Signal Corps

 First I will start with the old, then the new. I am sure there are so many companies in every country making bicycles for the military, but the concept of using them during the first and second World Wars is new to me. I have found two places in particular that have kept good track of the history of the bicycle during the wars and those are:
The BSA Museum and The Liberator.  I have decided to include them because these offer the most comprehensive collection of photography and narratives regarding the bicycle that carried the troops during the war.   There would not be enough room here to post all the pictures of bikes at war, but I can give you the links and so you can go to town. This first picture is from The Liberator, which offers a quite impressive collection of WWII Army bicycles. We can learn some historical facts from these websites while we enjoy the pictures.  Also if you have the time, this blog will take you around other military cool-looking vehicles such as the legendary Jeep, airplanes, motorcycles, etc. The Liberator, unlike our second guest, The BSA Museum, includes a collection of simply Army vehicles. The BSA Museum focuses only on their own brand. Remarkable in the sense that they have been making military bicycles for way more than 100 years.
"BSA was formed in 1861 and the company was finally sold in 1957 to Tube Investments. They were there at the beginning of bicycle production, and played a major part in their manufacture when Great Britain was the world’s leading producer of bicycles, motorcycles and cars. BSA bicycles are still made in India. BSA started out as gun makers and, through government contracts, helped defend the British Empire through the Boer War and two world wars. It’s interesting that the company name still exists …as BSA Guns Ltd."
In later posts we will discuss various folding bike mechanisms that I find to be the product of a lot of ingenuity and engineering and they come precisely from these old bike makers. But before we say good night, we'll leave you with the newest in military biking in the USA. With you, the Paratrooper: Well, this is a folding bike and frankly, to me it seems a little too much technology for what it will end up accomplishing. I have always thought that a bike is just that, a bike.  There is not a pressing need for all the bells and whistles that they put on them nowadays. I of course, appreciate all the rust free modern features that we can get today in the market plus the gears and precision of modern bikes, but trust me folks, today's wars are not fought on the ground as they used to. If a soldier needs a bike is not to go to the front and kill a bunch of people while supporting his bayonet on the handlebars.

The military bike of today will mostly carry soldiers and small equipment across the military base. Some airfields are so vast that it would take you all day to go back and forth from the hangar to the aircraft by foot and a van for that is some times too much. That's where the military bicycle comes in handy, but then again, any bicycle can do that. That's the beauty of this humble invention - It is itself in any situation.  Enjoy and please send your comments.
Ah, also, visit the Female Cycle page for photos of women bikers during war.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What about Biking for Special Needs?

Well, I am glad you asked because we have done some research and found a bunch of devices that will allow persons with special needs to still enjoy a good ride.
Speedy 1
We are going to start with this Speedy 1 made in Germany. Very convenient and here is why: You can pedal or rather move the pedals with your hands, it is a unique contraption that puts together a tricycle and a wheelchair, but you can also separate them as you see here.  You can find more information at Speedy Bikes.  I forgot to mention that you can also find them with pedals for your feet...(sounds kind of weird). In any case, there are all kinds of combinations.
Next we have the Freedom Concept Discovery Series DCP-12 Tricycle by Rehab Mart bicycle. In this image you can see a child using it, but it could be done for adults also. The person can pedal him/herself and the system straps him/her to the trike in case there is a loss of balance.  There are so many other combinations of this device and sizes that I am sure you won't even have to order one exclusively for your needs. They are a bit expensive and I am talking about three thousand dollars and up, but I still think it is worth it.

Ok now we'll talk about another cool device that I find very much fun and useful for special needs persons, but also for children that are trying to learn to ride a bike. It is the Gyrowheel. The company is actually called the same. The way it works is by introducing a gyroscope inside the wheel. The rotation of the gyroscope or a wheel inside a wheel produces upward balance on the wheel, therefore it does so on the device attached to the wheel, which in this case would be the bicycle.  It does use batteries and it comes in 12" and 16" diameters.  I frankly don't think you should have to spend the money for one of these to train a child without developmental or mobility problems, but if you think about it, a person with a disadvantage would perfectly benefit from it.
  The BuddyBike on the other hand, uses no batteries. You have to ride it. Quite convenient because (according to me) of these reasons: You only have to get one bike, your child is close by and in within your reach. Your child gets to feel the direction of the handlebar and probably also feels in control. 
I do not work with people with special needs and if for any reason I am being politically incorrect, those of you that have more knowledge in this field should feel free to correct me.
OK having said that, I will introduce the Nihola. This company is probably very known to many of you, but this device in particular allows a wheelchair to ride on it or perhaps I should say, to ride with the wheelchair on it or whatever. Nihola seems to specialize in family biking and just because of that I like it. You know my motto - Less traffic, more transportation - 
All of these things are pretty cool, and as I said before, there are hundreds of devices for special needs bikers. That's why I decided to also include the Draising Plus. I have a hard time knowing what to call it - a bike? a tricycle? a wheelchair? Anyway, here it is.  This exclusive designed is brought to you by Draisin.  This Draising Plus is a wheelchair, bike, tricycle all at once. That's why I didn't know what to call it. You can separate the bike from the chair to push it alone. The special needs person does not have to pedal and that is a plus since quite often they cannot pedal or might not want to. 
Well, and to end this post I will leave you with something that I am sure you were not expecting, nevertheless it is still a device for a special need. You see, special needs does not only mean handicap.  If you need a customized device for a particular need then that is a special need.

Thanks to:,,,

Friday, April 6, 2012

Biking Beatles - A Collection

 Feel good about riding your bike, whoever you are and wherever you are.
For those of you that ever felt silly while riding your bike, especially in the United States. Yes, we do feel that way here in cities like Anchorage, Miami, Houston and others  where the motor vehicle is king. Those cities might have many other wonderful things, but pedestrian friendliness is not one of them. To make my point more clear, in case any of you out there wants to prove me wrong, I will give you an example. It is 7:14 and you start work at 8:00am. You are all dressed up for your presentation. You put your briefcase on the rack or the front basket and start pedaling towards the office.  Everything is nice and dandy and you appreciate that sense of freedom, but more than that, you feel goooood about being able to commute without adding one single molecule of CO2 to the atmosphere; in fact you wish your neighbours saw you so you can shove it in their faces that you don't need that brand new Ford Explorer or 4-Runner to move around town. That's all perfect until you get to the stop light. As you have to stop and the cars start to pile up next to you with your suit and tie, you start to sweat, but not from pedaling. Now tell me if that hasn't happened to you. That is how it feels like to commute to work in cities like Orlando or Detroit. 
 Traffic makes you feel silly because all those people are looking at you and you know what they are thinking.  "Who, in their right mind would bike to work on a suit and tie?" Well YOU DO, so what? I think when that happens to me.  You are the ones that should feel silly driving those gas suckers and getting fat as you pollute my air. You are the silly ones paying those huge car loans and $4+ per gallon of gasoline for a car that holds 7 while only you are seating on it.  Me? I only consume what I need, I exercise, feel good and don't work for my car to look good in the parking lot.
So, having said that, I will show you how cool the bicycle can be. So cool that even the ultra Beatles thought it was a cool way of riding.  Enjoy :)

These are the Beatles in the Bahamas while filming Help in 1965. Not the best experience for them since Director Richard Lester throughout the whole movie, made them feel like a bunch of extras. How silly do you think John Lennon felt while kissing Yoko Ono? Do you really think he cared? I don't.  The other pictures of the Ringo or Paul are not from that time.

Thanks to:
Boston Raleigh Users Group
Beatles day by day
Bikes and the City
john Lennon
Movie Moron

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Does this look Dangerous to You?

I came across the posting that I translate below and couldn't help it but to  include it in my blog because of two reasons. The first is that I find it very practical to have a bicycle for you that also allows you to carry your offspring :). The other reason is that I wanted you to see how in some places like Madrid, Bogota, some cities in Australia, the government is so out of touch with the rest of the world that instead of becoming a catalyst for positive change, opts to harass citizens and in particular those that are really contributing to make the city a better place; those that are doing something for the environment, those that don't pollute.  Those are the citizens that have to explain themselves in front of city government officials. Our subject today is Olly. Olly Green is having to fight a battle against city government to be able to take his daughters to school on his bicycle. I guess I want you to tell me where is the harm in this for the city, for him or for his daughters. Maybe I am the only one who does not see it.
Here is the translation from his blog Por Pozuelo con Pedales:

"Last week the police pulled me over for taking my daughters to school on my bicycle. Outside the school two police officers awaited me, dressed in civilian clothes and a car with no markings. In a quite aggressive way they were telling me that the bicycle was not appropriate to carry two children and demanded the technical book for the bike, which is ridiculous since it does not exist. The bicycle is a Kemper Pack Max Duo with a Bobike Junior seat and a Bobike Maxi seat; both compliant according to European code. My daughters are two and five respectively.  My daughters are two and five respectively.

After protesting (I was really furious), they decided to mess with me for covering part of the route over the sidewalk (some 200mt)… I know it is not permitted, but when I take my daughters I take the sidewalk for part of the Avenida Juan XXIII, an avenue of high risk from cars. I have decided that it is better to get light citation than my daughters’ lives - given the lack of adequate infrastructure for cyclists and the inaction of police to enforce traffic laws such as a maximum speed of 40km/h or the 1.5m margin that cars must allow when passing a bike. Even the police themselves told me to go by the sidewalk with the girls one day as we came from school.

¡They will report me to the Social Services!
The issue resulted in them taking my information and issuing a report for City Hall and another for the Social Services for being an irresponsible father; such a nonsense and absolute abuse of authority. For years I have been using the bicycle every day as a method of transportation and I’ve taken my daughters to school on the bike from the day they could sit up.

I want people to know
I am indignant, indignant for having to put up with this non-sense; (even more when there are cars breaking all kinds of laws), with the lack of respect to cyclists, the grave lack of adequate infrastructure, the bad use of public funds and police resources, etc.; this, in contrast with other Spanish cities like Vitoria, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia or Majadahonda, which are actively promoting the use of the bike. What a shame."