Tag Archives: Austin

TX Custom Bike Show: Oct 15-16

Jeremy of Gallus Cycles tattoo

Jeremy Schlacter, pictured above, builds custom steel bicycles in Ft. Worth. He sent me a flyer for the TX Custom Bike Show in Austin two weeks from now. As much as I’d love to go, we’ll be at home nursing the youngest member of BikeDenton editorial staff. If you do go, I’d love to see some photos when you get back.

Texas Custom Bike Show 2011 poster, shows participating frame builders

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Bike Boxes explained

Portland bike box where cyclist had been killed

photo credit: bikeportland.org

At last week’s focus group input meeting, the term “bike boxes” came up during a discussion of intersection accommodations for bicycles. You’ll soon see them installed in Dallas as part of the Bike Plan along with cycletracks, bike lanes, and sharrows. Here’s a primer on how they work:

A Bike Box, or Advanced Stop Line (ASL) is a designated safe place at the front of an intersection so people on bikes queue up in front of car traffic. The National Association of City Transportation officials lists the benefits:

  • Increases visibility of bicyclists.
  • Reduces signal delay for bicyclists.
  • Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning at intersections during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Facilitates the transition from a right-side bike lane to a left-side bike lane during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication.
  • Provides priority for bicyclists at signalized bicycle boulevard crossings of major streets.
  • Groups bicyclists together to clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic.
  • Bicyclists can avoid breathing exhaust while queued at the signal.
  • Contributes to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.
  • Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.

Portland started deploying them in 2007 after two right-hook cyclist fatalities, as have other cities (New York, Austin, San Francisco). Researchers in Portland studied bike box response behavior and found that a majority of drivers were made more aware of bicyclists:

89 percent of motorists surveyed prefer the green-colored bike boxes to those that consist only of a white outline. Also, 43 percent of motorists surveyed feel the bike boxes make driving less convenient at the intersections, while 55 percent believe the bike boxes make drivers more aware of bicyclists generally.

Here’s a Streetsblog article showing installation of bike boxes in San Francisco; notice their boxes aren’t painted, but applied like stickers, and they feature a grippy surface to aid stopping.

If you want the full video experience, this Streetsblog film shows the Portland boxes in action.

Portland (Green) Bike Box! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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Recycled chainring planter

HOPE Market plant, E 5th

I saw this hanging planter made from recycled chainrings at the HOPE market on E. 5th in Austin during NAHBS.

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BikeDenton at NAHBS 2011

I recently went to Austin for the sixth annual NAHBS, the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. It was a hyper-sensory experience that no blog post, video, or photo gallery could synthesize. The handshakes and conversations seemed like a delight for the builders who spend much of their time working in solitude.

The show has grown steadily, with with 6 builders in 2005 and 126 builders in 2011. You won’t see Trek, Specialized, or Giant there, but you’ll see innovation and exquisite detail from backyard builders and established companies alike. There are competitive awards, but there’s a spirt that everyone wants everyone to win.

I rode around Austin with the folks from Path Less Pedaled and EcoVelo. We explored Austin together: food trailers, coffee shops, bars, markets. Woven into the conference were group rides, free barbecue, free beer, seminars, and hundreds of new faces to remember. I asked many framebuilders how they got into the craft, and I heard a range of inspiring stories. Some went to school for it, some figured it out on their own, and some apprenticed with masters. My favorite experiences from the show were spontaneous conversations with the builders. They want you to ask questions.

For the full-body immersion via hundreds of photos, look to coverage from Prolly, BikePortland, and Urban Velo. Denton micro-tourer Pondero wrote a thoughtful summary of the sensory overload experience.

I took 1200 photos, but I filtered examples from these down to three topics: detail, people, favorites.

Detail is everything at NAHBS. You have full access to scrutinize detail from inches away. You can reach out and feel the craftsmanship. I left thousands of fingerprints. I saw amazing welds and brazed lugs, wooden wheels, a light mounted by a bent spoke, clever cable routing through frames, and some amazing paint jobs.

Click on the mural below for the flickr set of detail examples:

examples of handbuilt bicycle detail at NAHBS

I loved the human experience of NAHBS. I talked to builders, racers, fans, and writers. We rode together, ate together, and I was impressed how many builders brought family, including kids (who didn’t look bored). ANT and Bilenky come to mind. Here’s Betsy Scola of ANT.

Betsy Scola of ANT

I met all the folks in the below mural, so you can click through if you’d like to know who they are. They are builders, friends, volunteers, cooks, journalists, advocates, and a Tour Divide 2011 contender.

Click on the mural below for the flickr set of people:

people I met at NAHBS

Picking overall show favorites is hard, so I forced myself to choose 3, and I posted 6 photos of each.

In the top row of photos below are Philosophy Bags, an Oregon small business that makes timeless and simple bags. They sandwiched a waterproof layer between the cotton layers, so these bags don’t look as adventure-bikey as an Ortlieb or similar brands. At $100+, they’re not cheap, but they’re American made and classy.

The middle row of photos features Shamrock Cycles‘ Celtic-Cross bike, which at first glance looks like a touring rig. As the builder explained, the integrated fenders and racks come off quickly (via beautiful knobs and leather washers) and the bike quickly becomes a cyclocross race machine.

The bottom row of photos shows off the Yipsan Bicycles city bike. Renold Yip really blew some retro-grouch minds with the convertible porteur and pannier rack. In porteur mode, it’s flat and wide and you can carry a big heavy load of newspaper and books. In pannier mode, it’s narrow, but it has side supports for low-slung touring baggage.

Click on the mural below for the flickr set of my favorites:

my 3 favorite bikes and products at NAHBS 2011

There’s more, but I’ll take a break and wait before posting other content from the show. I managed to get photos of some tasty bikes in the free valet, which was popular and free for all the attendees.

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NAHBS lunch with Path Less Pedaled

Bromptons Less Pedaled

There’s no shortage of NAHBS bike bling coverage out there, so I thought it’d be nice to feature some of great people I’ve met and talked with.

Yesterday, I had lunch with Russ and Laura of Path Less Pedaled at Frank. Russ and Laura came through Denton last year on their whirlwind US bike tour, and they made some new friends here in town.

Notice the tiny Brompton folding bikes between the booth seats. They just picked those up here in Austin at NAHBS and their next trans-America adventure will feature the downsized wheels and unbeatable portability. Between the Bromptons and Amtrak, the new trip will have a pretty awesome and unique flavor. The idea is definitely infectious, and now I really want a folder!

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NAHBS cheater schedule

I threw together this schedule for myself, color-coded by day, including all seminars and events that I could find from Austin on Two Wheels and twitter responses. I made it a PDF so I could easily scan it in iBooks on the iPhone.

This is the 4th updated version so far, and if there are more revisions, I’ll just update the link.

NAHBS cheater schedule

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7 days till NAHBS

City bike by Alternative Needs Transportation. Credit: urbanvelo.org

City bike by Alternative Needs Transportation. Credit: urbanvelo.org

Next Thursday, we’ll be heading down to Austin for the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Countless artisan builders will be showing off bikes of all materials: steel, carbon, aluminum, titanium, bamboo. Like the bike above, there will be plenty of awesome practical and classy stuff; this isn’t just for racing gearheads.

What it won’t be is a typical showroom with Trek, Giant, Specialized, Bianchi, etc. What it will be is a celebration of handcrafted ingenuity, intricate detail, and graceful designs. It’s the best of the best, the bleeding edge, the stuff that big companies will copy. These builders value quality over quantity, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve been working on. There are seminars as well, for those who want to hear from top minds about brazing, welding, and running a bike-building business.

Some of my favorite builders in attendance are Vanilla (so popular they’re backordered 5 years), Ira Ryan, ANT, Geekhouse, Indy Fab, Bilenky, and Alchemy. Local DFW builders Gallus and Daltex will be there. Kinda makes me wish Denton had a builder on the exhibitor list. Our friends Russ and Laura from PathLessPedaled will be there, and I look forward to drinking a pint with them again. The excitement is palpable. This is going to be awesome.

So you want to go?  Here’s the scoop:

1 day: $18 advance (includes $1 transaction fee),     $22 at the door
2 days: $32 advance (includes $1 transaction fee),   $40 at the door
3 days: $51 advance (includes $1 transaction fee),   $58 at the door

Seminar Pass: $160 (includes $1 transaction fee).

Carl Strong Seminar: $125. For Framebuilders Only

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Awesome Lube Signage

We saw this in Austin a couple weeks ago.  We’ll give away a t-shirt or a beer if you can say exactly where it is.

Austin bicycle chain lube sign on telephone pole

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Austin Yellow Bike visit

The Austin Yellow Bike Project is truly inspirational, and it’s come a long, long way to become the impressive community service that it is today.  Like Querencia in Denton, their mantra is “At the Yellow Bike Shop, we don’t fix your bike for you; instead, we show you how to fix it yourself.”

Last weekend, we got a chance to snap photos of Yellow Bike during the quiet night hours.  These are a real treat, one which tastes best when shared with y’all:

(click for Flickr slideshow)

Austin Yellow Bike Project image gallery

(click for Flickr gallery)

Austin Yellow Bike work station

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Austin Bike Infrastructure Moves Forward

So around DFW, many cities are talking about accommodating bicycles and pedestrians.  A few DFW cities are just starting to publish master bike plans and maybe stripe a lane or two.  Austin is charging forward and building bold infrastructure.  The Austin Master Bike Plan is good.  Really good.  So good that it won the very competitive State Planning Project Award.

From the Austin On Two Wheels Blog, they have a nice summary of the November infrastructure updates:

  • new sharrows on Lavaca Street to Martin Luther King Blvd
  • bike lanes on Martin Luther King Blvd
  • painted (green) bicycle lanes on Dean Keeton
  • Bike Box at the intersection of 38th Street and Speedway

In 2009 the City of Austin installed 20.7 miles of parking free bicycle facilities, more than doubling the 8.1 miles we installed in 2008.  In the third quarter of 2009 alone we installed 8.5 miles of bicycle facilities exceeding the total for any previous year.

So naturally, if you’re reading this and you live in Denton, you might be asking “why isn’t this happening in Denton?”

  1. Lack of shared vision and coordinated effort between council and planning staff.
  2. Denton public didn’t consistently advocate for bike lanes/Complete Streets till recently
  3. Many bicyclists are students, who have high turnover and low political involvement
  4. There is no representative group for cyclists, yet.
  5. Few recent bike/pedestrian tragedies to bring scrutiny of current infrastructure faults

Remember that Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal which the Traffic Safety Commission tabled earlier this year?  It’s not coming back until we demand it.

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