I haven’t ridden my bike since well before the Portland Snowpocalypse started (around December 15). You see, I stupidly gave myself a flat tire, and then was unable to add more air.
One morning, the rear tire looked a little low, so I thought I’d better put a little extra air in before I left for work. However, I’d been having trouble with our pump. It had developed a crack in its hose. I really needed to get going, though, so I decided to put a piece of tape over the crack and give it a try.
The pump ended up taking half the remaining air out of the tire, so that I could not ride it. Oops. I ended up on the bus. Later, I could have either taken the bike to a gas station for air, or bought a new pump, but the first would have required me to remove the child seat from the bike in order to fit it in the car, and the second would have required money. So I left the bike in the garage and took the bus for the rest of the week (although later in the week I also bought a 7-day bus pass, so the money thing doesn’t make a lot of sense in retrospect).
Then the snow hit, and I didn’t even want to ride my bike. So it’s been sitting in the garage for the past month or so altogether. This week, I finally bought a new pump, a new set of lights, and a front basket which allows me to carry things while my three-year old rides in the back. I just need to inflate the tires and attach the lights and basket, and I should be ready to go again. We’re in the middle of intense rain right now, of course, but I’ve got gear for that.
Enough about me.
The story on bikes since summer 2008 has been that bike businesses are doing well, because the high price of gasoline has been turning people to bicycle commuting. However, the New York Times (who talked to Portlander and Bike Gallery owner Jay Graves) says that businesses have seen a slow-down since the cold weather began, and some are wondering whether the cyclists will return when the weather warms up again.
The New York Times also has an interesting graph showing that bicycle unit sales actually surpassed automobile unit sales in the early 1970’s, and that they had the potential to do so in 2008 as well (data for 2008 was as yet incomplete).
Meanwhile, an Associated Press article gives us a good reason to get back into more active forms of commuting: it lowers obesity rates! Well, duh — but the article does give statistics comparing obesity rates in American commuters with those in countries where walking and biking rates are higher.
And finally, Peter Nierengarten of Southeast Portland writes an excellent letter to the Oregonian detailing his ideas for keeping a new I-5 bridge in Portland from increasing car commuting and urban sprawl. Scroll down to the fourth letter, “Improve bridge, limit sprawl.”