Author Archives: jm

What is the real autonomy of an e-bike?

When you surf the net looking for electric bicycles information, bike manufacturers and shops offer it as X kilometers for a complete full battery. They say 50, 80, 100 or 120 kilometers that the e-bike can run with the battery. However, the lack of an international standard makes it impossible to compare e-bikes models. There is a clear, famous statement: the more Wh a battery has, the more kilometers can ride a biker.

Moreover, several factors come into play. For instance, take the same e-bike and the same cyclist, but different wind direction or speed, how many her saddlebags weight, aerodynamics of garment and accessories, wheels pressure, slope of a road, what gear she uses the most or whether she pedals in a cold or warm day (lithium batteries are more affected by low temperatures, thus they perform up to 20% less).

The traditional flux of questions-answers starts by the client, arrives to the shop owner, then the distributor and finally reaches the e-bicycle manufacturer. It would be so easy to make it simpler if there was an international standard. For example, every e-bike on a standardized bicycle roller with a dynamometer would allow to calculate the power and the exact battery consumption. Taking these numbers, manufacturers could apply a -+10 or a +-20 to give bicyclers real data about their products. In the meantime, bikers look for personal experiences about e-bikes in internet forums and specialized webs.

Recumbent bicycles

Bicycles can be adapted to whoever, no matter his physical condition. In some cases cyclists can suffer if they use a bad saddle which can cause back and ass pain. Such was the reason why at least one bike manufacturer was created. In reality, the bike store is dedicated mainly to recumbent bicycles and by smaller amount cargo bikes. The recumbent bicycle allows biker to pedal more comfortable since she can lean also her back. However, one has to pay attention not to experience an exaggerated curve in the backbone between back and neck.

Positive points (more than allowing disable people use them) are:

– Extra stability thanks to the third wheel

– Good maneuverability after you learn movements and brakes since they are located differently as in a traditional bicycle

– High visibility at ground level

– Pedestrians look at them because the are few recumbent bicycles. The more recumbent bicycles, the more unnoticed will go.

Andy Singer

Andy Singer was born in New York and moved in Berkeley (California) and Saint Paul (Minnesota). He has not car even in living in the USA and thinking highways are too wide, buildings are too separated and there is too much space for motorways and car parking. This is something that town planners call “sprawl”. As a result, it is a waste of time, space and gas. He also reckons that people who drive cars on a regular basis see the world through their windscreen and do not stop to talk to citizens, neither appreciate their surroundings. He goes a step further and as a ecologist he affirms cars pollute waterway when it rains on highways, as well as negative impacts of gas leaks and petrol industry. Moreover, in his opinion electric cars will not solve these problems since the environmental impacts in the raw material extraction, transformation and end of life will continue. In contrast, a bike uses much less resources than a car and has a longer life expectancy. He finally concludes that as a cyclist and does not pay for gas, tolls, insurances and other expenses for having a car.

Riding in Saint Paul is pleasant thanks to the efforts in building bike lines, is an almost flat location and has large parks close to the Mississippi river. But the worst is pedaling in winter when the temperature diminishes to -30 degrees Celsius. In this case he uses fat bikes (bikes with fat wheels) and a tricycle to go shopping.

Moreover, he makes cartoons about bikes (among others) and does it because he communicates with the world through them and are based on his experiences and interests. He drew for The New Yorker and The New York Times, but most of his clients are independent media.

The European Cyclists’ Federation

The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is an international organization that acts as an umbrella over the European countries bicycle organizations. There are at least one bicycle organization by country. It interacts with the European Commission, the European Parliament or the Council of Europe as well as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe or the World Health Organization.

The ECF puts into practice its influence to support laws which promote biking, avoid those which harm it and maintain cyclist in the politics agenda. Moreover, the ECF coordinates the Eurovelo and organizes the Velo-City every year.

According to its president, three factors have contributed to the boom of biking in the last years: Climate change, COVID-19 and the Ukraine war. This last point contributed to increase the price of raw materials. Furthermore, he indicates that most moves within a city are as long as 5 kilometers, a perfect distance to pedal, and the main contribution to climate change and pollution at city level is produced by combustion engine vehicles. Thus, bicycles are perfect to face it.

A brief Amsterdam story

Back in the 70’s, the number of purchased cars increased in Amsterdam and car parking were created, although citizens were detrimental due to the lack of pedestrian areas. Even channels were dried to gain extra space for cars. Such cars increment provoked a chaos and an augmentation in crashes, thus deaths. At that time the Agenda Autoluw was created. It is the politics of reducing private cars and make it difficult the entrance of it to cities in essence.

At the beginning of the XXI century, the same city experienced a boom as it comes to new inhabitants (an increase of 16%) and bikes (a higher percentage). As a result and partly because of tourists, streets were clogged with bicycles in sidewalks. This time pedestrians were affected. In 2012, public authorities started facing such a problem. New bike parks were built, campaigns for consciousness-raising were launched and bad parked bikes were banned. Additionally, car parks were transformed into bike parks. Moreover, impressive bike parks for thousands of bicycles have been opening in the last years with special interest when close of train stations and high demanded buildings.

Fyllings Dalstum Nelen

A traditional approach when pedaling from point A to point B and there is a mountain in the middle of the path is to create a road to save it, commonly by zigzagging. Some bicycles have gears to overcome high slopes, but some others do not. In Bergen, Norway, they have built a tunnel between two neighbors of the same city (Fyllingsdalen and Mindemyren). Originally, one should pedal for 35 minutes, whereas today a cyclist can spend 10 minutes to arrive to the same destiny. This almost 3 kilometers long, 6-meter width tunnel is opened for cyclists (3.5 meters of bike line) and pedestrians. (2.5 meters). It goes by in parallel to the train line and takes advantage of the auxiliary tunnel originally built as a complement to the railway.

Apart from the obvious improvement in the sustainable mobility, it also opt for security because of all the cameras which register images 24-7. However, the tunnel is only opened from 5:30 to 23:30. Additional improvements over common tunnels for bicycles are the emergency phones and speakers throughout it. In case of emergency, ambulances and firefighters can access without problem.

The main problem architects faced when building it was the high humidity since the mountain is plenty of water and needed a drainage system to overcome it.

As far as I know, this is the second larger tunnel for bikes. The most large is called Snoqualmie in Seattle with 3.6 kilometers.

The death and live of great American cities

The death and live of great American cities is a book by Jane Jacobs. Although it was written in 1961, most of their insights still remain live today.

In the first part, she claims the necessity of maintaining vivid sidewalks because of improving pedestrian health (both physical and psychological), security (for example if a robbery happens in a street with plenty of small stores, shopkeepers will identify and face the bad guy or call the police. Lack of sidewalks reduces people on street), human relationships promote, protection (against cars and bad people since the more eyes in street, the less probable somebody could be something inconvenient like parking a car on a sidewalk), more space to sidewalks means less space for cars, thus less noise, pollution and ultimately deaths, and the opportunity to practice sport when walking or running in contrast to moving by car.

Quietly related, we have confirmed the reduction in the number of small, local stores in neighbors which are being substituted by the same multinational stores you come across in many cities or tourist apartments in the last years. This is an error since less local stores means less community and trust. At the time Jane wrote her book, it was common practice to give her house keys to the fruit seller for relatives who used her house where she was on vacations as a result of trusting him. Few people do it nowadays and we tend to be more individual and distrustful about people. However, social movements and different groups try to revert it and would be beneficial to everybody.

Wide sidewalks allow children to play on them with the approval of parents since in such sidewalks there is plenty of space and lack of cars. Parents fear children playing on pavement precisely of these dangerous one-ton or more machines, not to mention the pollution they produce. Thus, the wider a sidewalk, the better to everybody.


The Orxatona is here!

Orxatona is the Spanish Criticona based on the Critical Mass which takes place in one city every year. This time the fortunate city is Valencia. The first Criticona in Valencia took place back in 2014 and after a decade it will be again surely a great party for urban biking this year. It is a huge event from 1st to 5th May in which local and external bikers will enjoy the city, its bike infrastructure, the good mood and many more. The Orxatona offers routes, parties, a bike polo exhibition, an alley cat race, the Valencian Critical Mass support, a workshop to tune your bike, an impressive ride (the official Criticona) and the XiquiMassa (a kind of Critical Mass for families and children), among other activities.

You are more than welcomed! Are you going to miss it?

Ron Werner

Ron Werner is a photographer who captured day-to-day common activities in New York, specifically in City Island. His family arrived to the USA by running away the nazis from his mother Austria. He opened a gallery called Focal Point Gallery to show his works at the beginning and finally he opened it to other artists, not only from the photo field but also from other artistic areas. Focal Point Gallery has evolved from an extremely large space, in which he also lived there, to a smaller one with impressive windows throughout which he used his camera in an efficiently way. Among all his photos, people with bikes emerge as icons. He affirms that he takes photos of bikers because it gives back memories when he was a boy and enjoyed pedaling.

Dom Whiting

The Covid pandemic made us modify our habits in many ways. Those people with a job in direct contact with other people suffered a stop or it was re-double as in the case of doctors and nurses. Dom Whiting belonged to the first group. He had worked as DJ in an event company and was open-minded enough to take advantage of the situation.

He modified his bicycle to include a mixing desk and a microphone on its handlebar, and carried on with outdoor music sessions in order for people to spend a good time dancing while pedaling. This active user of social nets has played in Dublin, Brussels or Barcelona to name a few. His parties include colored smoke bombs and confetti. To complement it, loudspeakers are attached to some other bicycles so that you can hear the music no matter where you are located in the pack. But the process of establishing a performance starts before since he first visits the city, them choose the route and finally pedal on it twice before the final event.

His passion for bikes started when going to school as it was the usual way of transport and he had continued using it to go to work from time to time.