Bike Safety Maps via Crowdsourcing

via Commute by Bike

This combines three of my favorite things – mapping, crowdsourcing, and bicycling – is something I can’t help cheer!

Earlier this month, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, geography professor Dr. Trisalyn Nelson launched a new bike mapping website called BikeMaps.org. The website is a crowdsourced bike safety map that allows you to track things such as crashes, bike thefts, danger zones, and near misses. The map legend items include: citizen collision report, citizen near miss report, cyclist hazard, official collision report, and bike theft. There are also general alert areas, information about rider volume in a given area, as well as infrastructure (at least in Victoria) and an incident heat map. bikemapsorg_legend

Of course, as with any crowdsourced map, it relies on other people to populate it with data. Nonetheless, crowdsourcing has been shown to be immensely popular for preparedness and emergency response and has been widely used in recent disasters such as last year’s typhoon in the Philippines or the2010 Haiti earthquake. Open Street Map is perhaps the most prolific of crowdsourced mapping options on the internet, and it has a cycling friendly spin-off called Open Cycle Map. GoogleMaps also used a feedback option when they first launched the bike directions feature in 2010. And you can still request that they fix a problem on their maps, but it’s not really quite the same as crowdsourcing. What’s nice aboutBikeMaps.org is that it has a very specific focus on cycling hazards. So if that’s something you’re curious about before you head out on your bike, it could be your one-stop-shop for the information you need.

I spent some time playing with the map, and it’s definitely better in some places than others at the moment. Naturally, it’s a little Canada-centric at the moment, but it’s intended to be a global map. But as you can see from the data this morning, there’s definitely more information being populated in North America, with a focus around British Columbia. bikemapsorg_globalIf you zoom into Victoria, B.C., where the map originated, you can see its got quite a lot of detail. The little circles with numbers tell you the number of incidents in a given area, and when you zoom in, the information becomes increasingly detailed. bikemapsorg_victoriaAnd if you really want to get a sense of where the most incidents are occurring, you can use the incident heat map option, which basically just combines all the incidents into one intensity map with red being the highest intensity of incidents and blue being the least. bikemapsorg_heatmapThere’s also a nice bike infrastructure option on the legend, but it looks like it’s currently just limited to Victoria. Another nice feature is the rider volume, which pulls its data from Strava. So although the bike infrastructure is just limited to Victoria at the moment, you can get a sense of where people ride based on the rider volume data. bikemapsorg_densityWorking in the background of BikeMaps.org is some fancy GIS (geographic information systems) to provide the nice incident intensity bubbles and heat map. All in all, it’s a pretty slick operation. The map’s creator feels that safety fears are one of the number one things preventing people from using bicycles more for transportation, and she hopes that this will help to alleviate some of those fears. Read more of her comments in this article from the Times Colonist. As she notes here:

With only 30 to 40 per cent of cycling accident data captured by traditional data sources, BikeMaps.org represents an important effort to fill data and information gaps. I love cycling and I commute by bike daily. But, especially as a mom, I am always looking for ways our family can ride as safely as possible.

Is a Lighter Bike Faster?

I enjoyed this article in VeloNews, it explains why I like my Atlantis so much

If you’re having trouble telling what the difference is between the 11 pound bike and 15 pound bike, save yourself the eyestrain. That’s the message.Take 3 pounds off your bike, pedal at a constant rate of 200 watts, and you’ll get to the top of a 7 percent climb a whole 7.5 seconds ahead of the competition. A 1-pound advantage only puts you ahead by 2.5 seconds.

Editor’s Note: This excerpt is adapted from the book FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed by Jim Gourley and republished with permission from VeloPress. Learn more about the science of triathlon at freetrispeed.com.

Let’s clear something up. There is no such thing as a “fast bike.” Bikes are neither fast nor slow. Bikes are shiny or expensive. Bikes have a lot of mass or a little. Without a rider, they are stationary. Physics holds a bike in place until you get on it and start pedaling. Even then the bike may not necessarily be fast. Of all the equipment on your bike, your legs are the most critical component. There are plenty of nice bikes on the road that are being ridden slowly.

But more insidious than inaccurate vocabulary is a simple overestimation of how much bike weight matters for most riding.

In FASTER, I show the math that explains why just a degree or two of incline makes riding a bike feel so much harder. Riding up a hill, it may seem more important than ever to dump any and all extra mass we can from our bikes. That’s the allure of a carbon fiber bottle cage, an upgrade to carbon fiber cranks, handlebars, stem, carbon saddle rails, or wheel spokes. Five grams here, 10 grams there, it all adds up, right? Pretty soon, you’re 500 grams lighter. That’s half a kilogram!

True. But such upgrades could easily total $500 or more, which is also half a grand. Is it worth it?

Not exactly.

A good approximate difference between an entry-level aluminum bike with a decent set of components and a top-of-the-line carbon model with some of the lightest components on the market is just shy of 3.25 pounds.

Was the weight loss worth it?

Let’s find out. Take a hypothetical rider and have her ride two bikes up a hill at the same speed. The first bike weighs 15 pounds and the second bike will shave off the 3.21 pounds to weigh in at 11.79 pounds. For each test, we’ll have her ride at 15 mph. Everything is constant, except for the bike, so what we ought to see is a reduction in the power required to get up the hill. That’s the real test of your savings.

Refer to the second image, above, for a graph of the results.

If you’re having trouble telling what the difference is, save yourself the eyestrain, because there isn’t much — that’s the message.

But pro athletes use the lightest equipment they can, so there must be something to it, right?

Remember that professional athletes operate in an entirely different environment than the rest of us. They are all very close to each other in terms of fitness, and they are also all very close to being the absolute best a human being can be.

Beyond that, our result also makes intuitive sense: 3.21 pounds is just over 2 percent of the total weight of our 150-pound cyclist and 15-pound bike. Ten watts is 2 percent of the 500-watt power requirement to maintain speed up a 10 percent grade. Because the weight-to-power savings ratio is linear, we should expect that one-to-one relationship.

The implication is a bitter pill, though. If you want to reduce the power requirement by 1 percent, you have to reduce the total mass that’s moving up the hill by 1 percent. And because you’re moving both your body and the bike up the hill, a measly 1 percent equates to a whole lot of grams before you see returns on your carbon investment.

In short, you’re much better off upgrading your legs and dropping body fat through proper training and diet. In fact, losing unnecessary weight would have a dual impact on your power and speed. As weight decreases, the amount of power required to maintain a certain speed will also decrease. At the same time, the amount of power you are capable of generating should actually increase. This is because oxygen uptake is related to body mass and improves as fat is lost.

Wattage vs. time

If the power argument doesn’t quite satisfy you, we can look at it another way. Let’s answer the question you really care about: How much faster does it make me? After all, you win races by saving time, not watts. Let’s see what will happen when our hypothetical rider rides bikes of varying weight up different hills. We’ll hold power at a constant 200 watts and have her ride up a 1-mile climb at seven different grades (1–7 percent).

Let’s look at the difference between 15-, 16-, 17-, and 18-pound bikes, with the 18-pound bike serving as the baseline. Because of the complexity involved, we’ll eliminate air resistance and analyze the impact of weight reduction only. How much time do we save?

A graph of the results is in the third image above.

Read it and weep, weight watchers.

Look at the far right of the graph. Take 3 pounds off your bike, pedal at a constant rate of 200 watts, and you’ll get to the top of a 7 percent climb a whole 7.5 seconds ahead of the competition. A 1-pound advantage only puts you ahead by 2.5 seconds. Over the course of an hours-long race, a few seconds per climb is not a significant advantage.

Keep in mind that the advantage only holds when the climbs are long and steep. Courses with fewer and shorter ascents will keep the difference small.

Read more at http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/bike-weight-myth-fast-bikes_339880#b18u91L353YFsStr.99

Voigt sets new hour record

I saw this on VeloNews today, I am so pleased that

Jens set this record, also that the rules are so much clearer now.

Voigt

Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) set a new hour record at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland.

He rode 51.115km over the course of an hour Thursday. The 43-year-old German bested Ondrej Sosenka’s mark of 49.7 kilometers by 1.415km.

“I started a bit too fast, after 20 minutes I had to ease off,” Voigt said. “I wanted to give it all in my final race.”

Read more

Jens Voigt Reminds Me Who I Am

From VeloNews

USAPC4_814-044-660x440COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — In the end, it really didn’t matter if he’d won or lost.

Jens Voigt, the 42-year-old German whose career has spanned two decades, was off the front, alone, battling against the wind, the peloton, and his own inner demons, one last time.

In his final race, in what has been a season-long farewell tour, the fan favorite from Trek Factory Racing was doing what he’s done best since the Clinton administration — suffering, tempting fate, attempting to defy the odds.

After making it into the day’s 12-rider breakaway, Voigt attacked with 40km remaining on stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado Springs Thursday, on the third of four 25km circuits that included a steep climb leading into the red-rock wonderland of the Garden of the Gods, followed by as a short kicker 2km from the finish line.

Voigt’s advantage was never more than 90 seconds over his former breakaway companions, but topped out at a good three minutes back to the main peloton, which consisted of an odd mix of motivated sprint teams and GC contenders.

Teams that missed the move, such as Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies and Garmin-Sharp, chased early, while teams with top sprinters, such as SmartStop, Hincapie Sportswear, and Cannondale, drove the effort late, despite the efforts of Voigt’s Trek teammates to slow the chase at the front.

On a day that wasn’t expected to impact the general classification, there was little question as to what the thousands of fans along the course hoped to see. Signs proclaiming Voigt’s catchphrase, “Shut Up Legs!” were abundant. T-shirts reading “Jens! Jens! Jens!” lined the finishing straight. Voigt had won a race at least once in every one of his 16 years as a pro, and had been winless, up to this point, in 2014. Twitter was ablaze with support for the old man who could, the hard-working father of six; there was a nearly universal desire to see the cagey, charismatic Voigt go out on top.

Within the final 10 kilometers, it was anyone’s guess as to whether the veteran breakaway specialist would hold off the hard-charging pack. The gap had fallen to one minute, and it was coming down quickly.

With 5km to go, the gap was 35 seconds. With 2km to go, and one short, steep climb remaining, the gap was under 20 seconds. Would he hold it, and win one last time? Or would he be absorbed by an unsentimental peloton? And in the end, did it matter?

Voigt’s performance, a month out from his 43rd birthday, had already been a victory of sorts. The oldest rider in the pro peloton had, once again, put on a show. He’d brought the drama. He’d given it everything, against all odds, alone, again. He’d accomplished what he’d set out to, what he’d said was his main objective coming into the race, when he hoped only to have the opportunity to “try one of my stupid breakaways one last time.”

In the end, Voigt was caught inside the final kilometer, steamrolled by hungry, younger bike racers looking to create their own legacies. Cannondale’s Elia Viviani won the stage ahead of Martin Kohler (BMC Racing). Voigt finished 67th, 52 seconds down, completely spent.

Yet during the podium celebration, where Voigt was awarded as the stage’s most aggressive rider, the cheers were, by far, the loudest of the day.

With a hard mountain stage looming on Friday (Voigt said he’d likely hide in the peloton and recover), an uphill time trial on Saturday, and a likely field sprint on Sunday, Voigt had taken his final opportunity, and he’d given his all. And in that sense, he’d gone out on top.

After the stage, VeloNews asked Voigt if — even though he hadn’t taken the stage win — he had been able to soak up the experience of one final, odds-defying breakaway, and if that wasn’t a victory in itself.

Voigt’s response was, like the man himself — energetic, entertaining, and filled with emotion.

“Despite the fact that I was hurting, yes, I was also soaking it up,” he said. “I saw all the signs on the roads — ‘Shut up legs,’ and ‘Farewell, Jens.’ I could hear the people on the road, the fans. And it felt like it was my home crowd. I wanted it like that, one more time in the last week of my career. I felt obliged to show it one more time, to try to win in the fashion they would expect.

‘Maybe, in a bizarre way, it was fitting it ended like this,” he continued. “This is the story of my life — from 20, 30, even 40 breakaways, maybe one works. This was the typical breakaway, you give it all, and you get caught. It was a perfect example of my career — you put it all on the line, you’re taking risks in looking stupid.

“I like today. It was a good day, and I’m really happy that I had it. To be honest, I was a little emotional on the podium. I think I had maybe more applause than the yellow jersey, and I was the closest to crying since the birth of my first child, 19 years ago. I was really close to having tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful and emotional moment for me, and I am happy to one more time be on the podium, with these other amazing riders. I’m happy. I feel like I accomplished something, in my last race. It was a success. I was operational today. I was a force to reckon with. I made it hard for those guys to chase me down, and they only caught me with 800 meters to go.”

Read more at http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/08/news/voigts-final-hurrah-top-really-matter_342063#pPT4UukIv9Rww9V3.99

This sleek electric bike is wonderful and could be real, if you vote for it

A clever concept with smart lights and a built-in lock

Originally posted on the Verge.  VOTE FOR IT

A team of designers in Seattle are building a bike that could be your new best option for navigating busy city streets. Called the Denny, the bike concept includes a number of clever features that make it a bit more useful than your average two-wheeler. Not only does it have a removable electric motor to give you a bit of a boost, as well as automatic gear shifting, but its detachable handlebar doubles as a lock, so you never have to worry about bringing one along.

The bike also includes a surprisingly robust lighting set-up: there are integrated turn signals and head and brake lights, as well as smart, reactive lights that turn on based on the lighting outside. "The Denny bike is about returning the rider (and ourselves) to those early days of carefree riding," explain the creators, "when cycling was just about ‘get up and go’ freedom; the reason we all fell in love with bikes in the first place."

Oregon Manifest TEAGUE X Sizemore Bicycle from TEAGUE on Vimeo.

Whether or not the bike ever makes it to production remains to be seen. Right now it’s just a prototype, and the Denny is one of five entries in the Oregon Manifest bike design project, which tasks designers from cities across the US to build their own take on a bike of the future. A concept out of New York features a built-in USB charging station, for instance, while a prototype from Portland has a 3D printed titanium frame. You can vote on your favorite, and the winning design will be manufactured by Fuji Bikes, for an expected retail debut in 2015.