Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Florentine Mobility (getting 'round in Michelangelo's town)

I was lucky enough to spend some time in Florence last month visiting my eldest daughter, Charlotte, who had chosen this Spring to visit Italy where she could properly learn
to eat, drink and smoke.
And being the transportation enthusiast that I am, I could not help but look around and see how folks move about in Florence.

As in most of those warm weather Mediterranean towns, Scooters rule! All shapes, all sizes and all ages buzzing about incessantly. This young man is operating his scooter in a safe fashion with both hands on the handlebars.
Typically it's one hand on the bar while the other is holding either a cell phone or a cigarette.

And yet, many Italians are getting around on bicycles. No helmets though which is totally insane given the behavior of Italian drivers.

Plenty of places to park. Most if not all of the bikes were very utilitarian in nature. No show horses here.

These are simple working

The mailman's bike. How's that for functionality Tom?

What is it about segways??
Regardless of where you happen to be riding one (plaza outside the Duomo in this photo) you still look so silly on it.

Florence like many other cities around the world has climbed aboard the bike share bandwagon.
These were available right outside the train station. I honestly did not see a single person pedaling one during our stay.
I still have doubts about these programs. I think when you remove the ownership aspect of having the bike, you are much less likely to actually care for it.

Florence has quite a few of these cute little natural gas powered buses,
perfect for squeezing down ancient cobble lanes.

If Florence ever decides to organize a Tweed Ride, here's their poster girl!

Italians do love their bicycles...

Come Ride With Us - This Sunday at Noon

Sombike Family Ride, Sunday, May 30th.
Meet up: NJ Transit Parking Lot, Maplewood Ave. & Baker St. Maplewood 07040
3-4 Miles

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Patient Money

Grown-Up Cyclists Need Helmets, Too

CATHERINE TALESE rides her bicycle everywhere — to work, to the theater, out to dinner — and always has a helmet on her head.

“There was a time when I didn’t wear a helmet; I thought I looked like a dork,” Ms. Talese, a freelance photography director who lives in Manhattan, told me recently. “But I’ve realized it’s not negotiable. Helmets are really your only safety gear in a city where pedestrians and drivers are still learning to share the road with bikers.”

Whether you ride on hectic city streets or bucolic back roads, helmets are essential armor. Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injuries by up to 88 percent and facial injuries by 65 percent, according to a Cochrane Database Systemic Review published in 2000. Bike riders who play against those odds do not fare well in accidents. More than 90 percent of the 714 bicyclists killed in 2008 were not wearing helmets, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Even a light blow to the head can be serious.

“You don’t have to be going fast to hurt your brain,” said Dr. Angela F. Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. A simple concussion can be debilitating, keeping you off the job or operating at half speed for weeks. “And every concussion increases the likelihood that you will have an injury to the brain if another concussion occurs,” Dr. Gardner said.

People over 30 should be particularly careful because their gray matter is not packed as tightly as it used to be. And I don’t mean that only figuratively.

“As you age, your brain shrinks, but your skull does not,” Dr. Gardner said. “That extra space means that the brain can bounce around inside the skull and may be more easily damaged from a blow.”

Nearly half of all states have laws on the books that require children and teenagers, typically those under 16 or 18, to wear helmets. In New York, riders under 14 must wear a helmet. A handful of localities — including Dallas, El Cerrito, Calif., and Rockland County, N.Y. — have laws that require people of all ages to wear helmets when they are on a bicycle. But no states do. So in most places it is up to adults to police themselves.

If you are not a helmet wearer — yet — here is some good news: low-price helmets, as long as they meet federal standards, work just as well as high-price ones. So cost should not be an impediment.

Nor should style. There are now plenty of hip helmets on the market in a variety of shapes and shades. Ms. Talese, for instance, owns helmets in blue and silver. “My helmet is the finishing touch to my outfit. It’s like a hat.”

In this column I am focusing on bicycle helmets, which are designed specifically to cushion the blow of the falls most likely to happen from a bicycle. But remember, skateboarders, skiers and rollerbladers should wear helmets too, and those helmets should be specific to those sports.

Here is how to make a smart buying decision.

LOOK FOR A C.P.S.C. STICKER The sticker ensures that the product has met the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards. The commission requires that helmets be tested for impact resistance on special rigs, that they offer adequate peripheral vision and that their straps be sturdy, among other measures. Helmets are tested in a variety of conditions: when they are hot, wet, cold and at room temperature.

CHEAP CAN BE SAFE According to a study by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Va., $10 helmets from Wal-Mart Stores and Target held up just as well as more expensive models from high-end outlets.

Last spring, the institute had an independent lab test six helmets in different price ranges. The report summarized its findings: “When you pay more for a helmet you may get an easier fit, more vents and snazzier graphics. But the basic impact protection of the cheap helmets we tested equaled the expensive ones.”

GET A GOOD FIT If the dork factor has been holding you (or your children) back, spring for a helmet in a color and shape you love — or at least do not hate. Check out the models from Nutcase, which feature bold graphics (stripes, flags, flames and such) in streamlined skater shapes. For more sophisticated styles, look at the options from Giro.

Whether you are buying for yourself or a child, be sure the fit is snug and comfortable. The helmet should sit two finger widths above your eyebrows, the straps should come under your ears and you should be able to open and close your mouth comfortably.

If your head tends to sweat, look for a helmet with vents.

LIGHT OR BRIGHT A helmet in a light, glittery shade makes you more visible and less likely to be hit on the road. If you ride in the evening, it is helpful to have a reflective helmet: The largest number of bicycle deaths in 2008 occurred between 6 and 9 p.m., according to the highway safety institute.

ONE FALL PER HELMET Most bike helmets are lined with expanded polystyrene foam, typically abbreviated as E.P.S. When you fall, the foam compacts (even though your helmet may look perfectly fine) and so will not cushion a subsequent blow adequately.

Because materials degrade over time, it is wise to replace your helmet every five to seven years. If your helmet dates from 2003 or earlier, buy yourself a new one.

BE A ROLE MODEL Wearing a helmet sets a good example for other riders and for children.

“We see plenty of kids in our trauma center who say they have helmets at home,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center in Seattle. “The biggest problem with kids is getting them to wear their helmets consistently.”

Adam Bluestein, who has two children and lives in Burlington, Vt., never rides without a helmet. “I want my kids to know that always riding with a helmet is important. Now when we see people riding without a helmet, it’s like seeing someone smoking a cigarette — the kids practically gasp in horror. ‘How could someone do something so unsafe?’ ”

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Two grades that have eluded me thus far, are Overhill Ave. (which turns out to be the secret way to get to the Reservation without riding on S. O. Ave. at all!) in South Orange and Walker Rd. in West Orange. These are the two ways to get over the South Mountain without either going on S. O. Ave. or riding all the way down to Millburn...

Today's ride was a short one, just up Redmond Rd. to Wyoming and back down on Forest Rd. In lowest gear all the way up -- a great climb and one that leaves you with a little energy left -- and coasting all the way down. Coasting on the curves down Forest is exhiliarating, but keep an eye out for cars.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bike to Work table

In front of the South Orange station:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We're on for Thursday, May 20th, 6-9 AM

Yes, we had to postpone our tabling at the train stations this morning because of weather. But tomorrow, Thursday, promises to be a perfect day to ride.
Everyone who rides between 6 -9 AM, has free entry to a raffle of prizes from
  • Fringe Salon
  • Sparkhouse Kids
  • Cold Stone Cremery
  • Village Trattoria
  • The Frame Shop
  • Kitchen a la Mode
  • Starbucks
  • Hershey's Ice Cream
  • Bagel Chateau
  • 3R Living
  • Crane's Deli & Cheese Shoppe
  • No. 165
Thank you generous local business people!

Extra bike parking is available. Thank you Dept. of Public Works!

Look for the South Orange Maplewood Bicycle Coalition tables - and grab a free cup of coffee, juice, fruit, and water bottles courtesy of Eden Gourmet, Starbuck's, and Bonte, and recyclable totes from PNC bank. (Homemade orange date cookies courtesy of Mark Bittman).

Check for last minute details.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunday ride

A beautiful day on Sunday -- about 20 people joined us on the ride, include Village President Doug Newman and Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bike to Work Week

Village President Douglas Newman's proclamation of bike to work week (click to enlarge):

Second grader writes poem about her bike

Eva wrote a poem tonight for her 2nd grade homework assignment and she said I could share it with you guys...

"My Bike"
I ride my bike most everyday
or sometimes I stay at home and play.
I like to bike down the hill,
I ride down fast and get a chill.

My bike is pink and white
and with reflectors that shine in the night.
I give the bell a ring,
and it goes "Ting-a-ling"

I ride into town to buy an ice cream cone,
and when I'm done I ride back home...

Cami Z

Wednesday, May 12, 2010









The South Orange/Maplewood Artist Studio Tour will be held on Sunday, June 6th from 11-5 presented by the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center and the Pierro Gallery of South Orange. This seventh annual tour features sixty artists of various mediums and styles, sure to engage any and all art-seekers as well as the simply curious. Tour-goers will spend a day throughout the two towns while meeting local artists, many of whom are nationally exhibited and well known in their genre. This is a great chance to see artists in their workspaces, ask questions about how their work is made, and perhaps even buy a piece to begin or expand a collection.

There is no set schedule and people on the tour can visit every space or select only a few to visit at their leisure, experiencing a day in two wonderful towns. Bring your bike or hop the free shuttle that is doing a loop throughout the two towns. This is also a prime opportunity to see some local arts venues like GAS Gallery and Studio, The Tenth Muse Gallery, Geralyn’s Art Studio, and The Framing Mill.

And the day doesn’t have to end at 5 pm. Tour-goers can then enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants of varying cuisines—some offering discounts upon showing the tour ticket—or browse some of the shops on the avenues such as Kitchen a la Mode or Perch Home.

The 1978 Arts Center and Pierro Gallery have been a creative presence in both Maplewood and South Orange for over ten years, creating an arts destination for people to visit in each town. The Artists Studio Tour is a way for the two towns to celebrate the vibrant and diverse local culture. For the low cost $7 in advance, $10 the day of, it offers a full day for viewing and experiencing the arts. The 7th Annual Artists Studio Tour is sponsored this year by the Millburn/Union and West Orange Whole Foods, GAS Gallery and Studio, The Tenth Muse Gallery, Geralyn’s Art Studio, The Framing Mill, Mona Lisa Framing, Perch Home, Caroline Gosselin, and Coldwell Banker.

CONTACT: Ellen Greenfield 973-763-2536

Monday, May 10, 2010

SOMbike Meeting, Tuesday Night, 5/11/10

Meeting at Baird, 5 Mead St., South Orange, 730 PM in the side room. Signs will direct you to the place. All welcome.