Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

23 October 2017

UPS: Coming Full Circle In Toronto?

Some cities, apparently, are starting to realize that they simply can't squeeze any more cars, trucks or other motorized vehicles onto downtown streets than are already creeping through them.

Toronto seems to be the latest such town.  And United Parcel Service might just be realizing that fewer vehicles with internal-combustion engines--including the company's own iconic brown delivery trucks--might be good for business.

The city and the package-delivery service are teaming up in a pilot program involving one delivery bicycle in a heavily-trafficked area.  According to Mayor John Tory (what a name for a politician, eh?), the test vehicle, which carries a large cargo hitch in the rear, won't be allowed in bike lanes.  It will, however, be permitted to use designated off-load zones on some city streets.

Currently, about 400 UPS workers deliver 20 million packages annually on 200 delivery vehicles in "The 416."  What the company learns from the pilot will "determine our strategy going forward" for cargo delivery "on a larger scale in Toronto and potentially to other cities across Canada" says UPS Canada President Christopher Atz.  

His company's officials say that this part of their plan for a more sustainable city.  There is reason to think it will succeed:  It first launched such a program in Hamburg, Germany five years ago.  That city is Europe's second-largest seaport, but like many other European cities, its streets are narrow and some areas--including the upscale shopping district of Neuer Wall--are surrounded by water.  In such areas, therefore, there is no space behind the stores where trucks can make deliveries.

If this project takes hold in North America, it could be said that UPS has, in a way, "come full circle":  It started as a bicycle messenger service in Seattle 110 years ago!

22 October 2017

Turn, Turn, Turn (Apologies To The Byrds)

I used to know somebody who said she had "tried riding a bike" a number of times.  The reason she never stuck with it, she said, is that she could "only ride straight ahead."  The reason, she said, is that she "never learned how to turn".

This guy seems to have the same problem:

21 October 2017

Another Mixte In The Mix

Today's post won't be about Max, or any other cat.

It'll be about a bike.  Specifically, it'll be news about one of my own bikes--as if I haven't given you enough lately.

This item, though, has nothing to do with any of the bikes on the side-bar of this blog.  It has to do with my commuter "beast" bike that almost never enters my apartment.

For three years, that bike was a '70's Schwinn LeTour.  It was one of those rare bikes made in a woman's version big enough to fit (more or less, anyway) someone my height.  

(Funny that when I lived a man, I was of average height.  Now, as a woman, I am taller than about 90 percent of my sisters!)

Well, that bike was stolen.  That is one of the reasons, of course, to have a "beater" bike:  Losing it doesn't hurt as much as having a nicer bike disappear.  You buy such bikes cheaply and spend as little as necessary to make it do whatever you need it to do.  And, if you lose that bike, you repeat the process.

Anyway, I went to a few sidewalk and yard sales and checked Craigslist, where I found this:

From the information I've gleaned, Fuji made this Allegro during its 1986 model year.  The frame is constructed from "Valite" tubing.  How or whether it differs from the carbon steel Fuji and other manufacturers used on their cheaper models, I don't know--or care.  I must say, though, that the bike does feel livelier than the LeTour.  That may be a function of its geometery, which seems a bit tighter.  If nothing else, the wheelbase is shorter.

And, interestingly, this bike has SunTour dropouts with the "ear" for mounting a derailleur.  They actually look like the SunTour dropouts on my Trek 412, except for an additional set of eyelets:  a handy feature, as I've mounted a rack and fenders on the bike.

Originally, the bike had 12 speeds shifted with steel SunTour derailleurs and stem shifters.  As you can see, I took those off and turned the bike into a single speed.  The derailleurs were still operable, but the chain, freewheel and cables were rusted.  So were the springs and all of the other brake hardware.   In any event, I gave the derailleurs, brakes and some other stuff--including the flat-ish bars and brake levers that came with the bike--to Recycle a Bicycle.  And I replaced the brakes with a pair of Raleigh-branded Dia Compe centerpulls I had lying around.

If you read this blog regularly, you won't be surprised to see that I installed Velo Orange Porteur handlebars and bar-end brake levers.  I don't like the hand position on most flat bars:  The grip area of the Porteurs allows me to keep my hands in a position something like that of the ramp and brake lever hood area on the handlebars of my road bikes.  The Porteurs also allow me to use a stem with a slightly longer extension, which improves handling.

So far, this bike is working well as my daily commuter.  And, yes, it's a twin-tube mixte, so I feel at least like I'm riding with some style.  And isn't that what really counts? ;-)