Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fling it Now

Damn kids anyhow.

Passed last year's annual cycling mileage total today. Less than 400 miles to go to 3650.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Onward and Upward

I'm thinking maybe we will soon arrive at the end of Jerome a Paris' long countdown to a $100 barrel of crude:

"The oil market sentiment remains bullish ... there is an overall upward trend toward the $100 level," said Victor Shum, energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. "Meanwhile, we can expect extreme volatility where on the one hand some traders will take profit while others will buy back positions."

Global Insight energy analyst Simon Wardell was even more unequivocal.

"The run on $100 ... (a barrel) now seems inevitable," he said in a research note. "In the short term all eyes will be fixed on the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration ... inventory data."

Those figures to be released later Wednesday are expected to show crude supplies dropped last week. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires predict, on average, that crude oil inventories fell by 1.6 million barrels.

"The price rise is really driven by expectations of drawdowns in crude oil and distillate stocks inventories in the U.S. inventory report," said Shum. "Some cold weather reports out of the U.S. and Europe serve as a reminder that winter is coming and that there are still supply concerns."

This from a USA Today article that spares us any reference to the inflation-adjusted all-time record—thumbsucking platitudes like these from 2005:

Crude oil futures are about 50 percent above year ago levels, though still below the inflation-adjusted high above $90 a barrel reached in 1980 [...]
Oil prices are now 67 percent higher than a year ago, but still well below the inflation-adjusted high above $90 a barrel set in 1980.

Probably because prices are no longer well below the inflation-adjusted high, and according to an article about the IEA's 2007 report titled World Energy Outlook in this week's Time magazine, unlikely to go back down in the forseeable future. The New York Times ran an article today on the early effects the new pricing is having on global political and economic power structures. Both are interesting reading.

Meanwhile, we had our first hard freeze in Madison last night, down to 24 degrees. Leaves were dropping from the trees like snow this morning at sunup.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Portland Envy

(photo: Stuart Isett for The New York Times)

Today's New York Times includes an article and video segment titled The Business of Biking profiling Portland's bike culture. It's worth checking out for the commentary on bicycle culture and bicycle builders, though I had expected to see something about Clever Cycles, which strikes me as one of the most unique shops in the country.

As strong as Madison's bike culture is, Portland makes us look like pikers.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Great Moments in Bicycle Infrastructure History

So, here we are, cruising down Winnequah Road in Monona. Apparently, there must have been some kind of problem along this road with bicyclists exceeding the posted speed limit, because the City of Monona has installed some clever Bicycle Traffic Calming measures right here in the bike lane:

I'm pretty sure these were not there last year. There are about seven or eight of them over the course of a little over a half a mile, so I can only conclude that Monona's traffic engineering department had them put there on purpose. Either that or the contractor was playing a practical joke on the aforementioned department. Or on bicyclists. Or on motorists. Or on the property owners.

Okay, it's really hard to tell why they are there at all.

Fortunately, the individual cyclist is free to decide whether to veer right onto the terracotta-colored sidewalkish thing on the right or to swerve left, closer to adjacent traffic. But decide they must, or experience a nasty diversion-type fall.

I really hope those black marks on the curb are from car tires and not bike tires.

Ultimately though, it may have been cheaper for Monona to calm their savage bicycle traffic simply by making the parking lane too narrow to fit a parked car between the bike lane and the curb.

Oh, wait...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Last Good Day of the Year

Saturday, November 3 was the last outdoor Dane County farmers' market of the season. So long until next year...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lipstick on a Pig

(click for big, if you dare)

No, I don't really think of my Surly Long Haul Trucker as a pig. But then again, had I wanted a similar, but prettier bike, I suppose I would have gotten a Rivendell Atlantis. Speaking of pretty, I've wanted a pair of hammered Honjo fenders for a long, long time. So I finally broke down and ordered a pair of the extra-longs from Velo Orange. Chris has blogged the basics of the installation, but mine varies from that a bit.

Honjo Koken knows what they're doing, and the hardware is really cool. Unfortunately, the Daruma (fork crown eye bolt) wasn't long enough to give me the position I wanted, because the LHT has a lot of fender clearence. So I made this bracket from a piece of aluminum angle, and fitted a little gasket of UV-resistant rubber sheet underneath.

Here's a pic of the attachment to the boss on the underside of the Nitto M12 rack. Just a little aluminum spacer I got at the hardware store and an M5 cap screw. And a neoprene washer inside the fender and lots of anti-sieze.

Here they are working together.

And at the seatstay bridge, a little too much clearance again, so I added this little bracket. Normally it would be holding a mirror to the wall, but here it's had another hole drilled in it and spans the space between the bridge boss and the sliding bridge bracket on the fender.

Last but not least, a nylon spacer to hold the chainstay end of the fender away from the bridge. This one's not long enough, so I'm going substitute one that's about twice as long.

These things were expensive and took a long time to install, but I think they were worth it. Now, if I can just figure out why the front one is still rattling a little...

Wisconsin has Bicycle Funding Anemia

Wisconsin's Democratic governor Jim Doyle used a line-item veto to reduce $19.1 million in funding set aside for biking and pedestrian projects in the state budget to a mere $2.7 million. The Lost Albatross nails it:

For all the lip-service our public officials seem to pay to our bike and pedestrian friendly culture, more often it would appear that regular citizens are the ones who do the most to promote and sustain the culture.

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin responded to the governor's veto in a press release (a PDF):

"Wisconsin could be the national leader in biking and pedestrian facilities,” [executive director Jack] Hirt explained. Instead, Wisconsin ranks near the bottom in use of federal transportation dollars for bike and pedestrian purposes. “We want to convince the governor to work with us to make Wisconsin a better place to bicycle,” Hirt said.

Good luck Jack, because we're right at the bottom. According to a 2006 interview with his immediate predecessor:

'We've always ranked in the bottom five states nationally in funding transportation enhancements,' says Dar Ward, [former] executive director for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. 'It's getting worse.'

Apparently, Ward was right.