Category Archives: Biking movement

Bikebus

It is said that bikebuses started in Brussels, Belgium, in 1998. But what is a bikebus? It is a secure and organized way to go to school by bicycle. It travels the neighborhood and makes stops in previously determined spots in order to allow bikers to sum to the bikebus, similarly as buses do. At the start there are only a few bikers, but the more pedaling and stops, the more riders. Thus, a pack of cyclists arrives at school. Participants share experiences, learn existence, increase their social skills and improve road safety knowledge while pedaling. Additionally, they start the day with extra energy. As it comes to the city, it is more quiet, secure and clean. Regarding children, a bikebus contributes to make independent, healthy and caring adults.

In Spain, bikebuses started more than a decade ago, but the boom was in Vic in 2020 when the teacher and mother Helena Villardel plus the associations Canvis en Cadena and Osona amb Bici agreed to create one. It was replicated in Barcelona almost instantly where they recorded a 11 seconds video and uploaded to Twitter. It was shared around the world and soon TV channels showed it. As a result, eleven bikebuses ran on Barcelona with more than 700 people every Friday in 2022.

Today, you can find bikebuses in Vienna, London, Melbourne, Washington, San Francisco, Mexico, Vancouver, Brooklyn, Bombay, Portland, Glasgow, Philadelphia, Santiago de Chile and Galway to name a few. To create a bikebus is needed to have five or six families who support a new one, determine the route and start pedaling. At the beginning, it will be a small bikebus, but the more children see it, the bigger bikebus. Parents will join it when their children want it. This is very important if the route crosses avenues and your city is dominated by cars. Adults block perpendicular streets as in the Critical Mass and police may help to do this task.

As Francesco Tonucci wrote in his book The city of children: If there are children playing in streets, it means the city is healthy. If not, it is ill”

Urban Freestyle

Urban Freestyle is considered as a way of living. BMX, Street Trial, Dirt Bike or Fixie are examples of such a concept which goes beyond making tricks with a bike. It also comprehends specific garment, how you speak and living based on concrete music and images.

The Freestyle comes from BMX which popularized in the seventies. Then, riders competed in races on earth and some of them started doing some tricks after competitions end. Regarding Street Trial, it comes from trial when some riders used street furniture as a playground. As it comes to the Wheelie Boys, it was born in New York (USA) when riders improved wheelies to the next level.

Inside the BMX style, we have Flatland in which riders use light and small bikes to allow complete maneuvers around the bicycle. On the other hand, in Street BMX, street furniture is used as playground and no matter whether it is handrail or curb, all is accepted. In this case bikes are a heavier, so bikers use to be strong. Finally BMX Park is an Olympic discipline in which riders jump in spectacular, innovative ways on their bikes, made mainly from titanium and carbon.

Street Trial combines street furniture with height and was created by Danny Macaskill. So, Street Trial is the most multipurpose discipline in the Urban Freestyle. Light bikes with carbon bicycle frame are used.

Wheelie Boys is a New York discipline in which riders make wheelies in artistic ways. No matter which bicycle they use, all bikes are appropriate to practice this sport.

A possible path for the biking movement

We, as bikers, know all the benefits that riding a bike produces like human health improvement, environment protection, more free surface for people in cities, less dangerous crashes, you name it (or at least we should know them). Making efforts to promote it is an encouraging task which gives back pride in return. The problem is that sometimes we focus too much in people who are already cyclists or concern about the benefits of using bicycles.

I consider there are three types of persons in this regard: Those who are already convinced of the advantages of pedaling, those who are in the path of arriving to the previous group, and those cochistas who will never allow themselves to see positive points in bikes. I reckon the bike movement should focus more on convincing the group two of people, as indicated before. Most of them see bikes daily, have some concern in human and environment, check bad mood in car drivers, see cars and car infrastructure occupying too much surface in the neighbors stealing it from people, among others. They just need a little push to become riders and we, as experimented bikers, should constitute an example for them, transmit our good mood, explaining how it feels when riding a bicycle, all the benefits it has. This way more and more bicyclers will be seen on the streets which will encourage more people to pedal, politicians to build bike infrastructures and diminish car lines. In the end, all the people will benefit including those in the group three, though they will probably continue opposing bikes. Do not worry, their sons or grandsons will appreciate bikes.

Todobici

Workshops fix your bicycle indoor and some of them do it outdoor. Going a step further, few workshops not only fix bikes indoor and outdoor, but also do it free on streets, parks and pedestrian zones in order to help no-bikeholism. These workshops think people as customers as well as key persons to improve Earth as it comes to environment, better health and happier.

One of the workshops is called Todobici which is located in Valencia, Spain. It has promoted biking for more than a decade in which, in addition to fix and sell bikes and components, has contributed to develop the neighbor and the bike activism. Todobici shows adapted workshops outdoor as master classes with the name of “Con las manos en la grasa” (something like Fill your hands with grease, in English). They say that it is important that those who pedal bikes know their vehicles and names of parts and basic repairs. It has done workshops for children in schools, senior citizens in several locations, women in Todobici and online in the 2021 Ciclosferia. Moreover, it is a workshop in which you can find Ciclosfera.

False bike myths

  • Cycling is expensive: False, you can buy a second-hand bike for much less than you imagine. Maintenance is also cheap, much more cheap than a car or motorbike. Remember always to demand the invoice of the original bicycle so that you do not contribute with bike theft.

  • Women need women’s-specific bikes: False, women ride each and every bike, no matter it has a low bar or not.

  • Riding is dangerous: False, it is safer than driving a car as it comes to number of crashes and importance of injuries and deaths (https://etsc.eu/transport-safety-performance-in-the-eu-a-statistical-overview). Even a pedestrian has more probability to suffer an accident compared to the one of a bike being involved in a crash.

  • Bike weight is the most important issue: False, regarding weight the most important issue is the rider sometimes followed by the extra weight you carry in backpacks, saddlebags, etc.

  • Cycling to work makes you arrive sweating: False, even in warm climates what makes you to sweat are issues like the speed or riding uphill. Consider the extreme case of cycling at 40º Celsius and you are at the top of a mountain. You just need to pedal once to ride, let’s say, 5 kilometers while a pleasant wind blows on your face. Remember that for long distances the combination of train + bike is ideal.

  • It is impossible to ride with extreme conditions like raining, snowing or warm temperatures: False, people from diverse countries still use their bikes no matter if it rains, snows or there is a high temperature. People in north Europe say that the problem is not the climate conditions, but the garment you wear. Here you have some photos to illustrate it

  • Biking is not for obese people: False, quite on the contrary biking is an excellent, aerobic exercise to loss weight.

  • Riding is bad for your articulations: False, indeed cycling is well recommended by doctors to those who have problems in articulations such as the knees by substituting other exercising with higher impact on these like running, jogging or jumping.

  • People with vertigo can not ride: False, this is a misconception. People who suffer from vertigo can ride a bike if their vertigo is not severe. In severe cases there is always the option to use a tricycle.

  • Bikers do not pay taxes: False, it is a common sentence by car drivers. When you buy a bike or some component you do pay the VAT or equivalent tax in you country. When you bring your bicycle to a workshop to repair, also you pay a tax which is implicit in the cost of the service.

  • Bikes should show a plate and have a specific insurance: False, another false argument by car drivers. Plates in bicycles were used in some countries such as Spain long time ago, but they were prohibited by the clear reason that it has no sense since plates were so small that a person could very hardly read it and the excessive administrative costs involved. Regarding insurance, today’s home insurance covers bike issues in most cases, where in others the possible damages caused by urban bicycles are so small that it has no sense to pay for a specific insurance.

  • Cyclists are not held for traffic violations: False, conversely cyclists are held for traffic violations the same way drivers are. It is clear that bikers present specific issues due to specific infrastructures such a bike lines, but if police catch you drunk on a bike, you will be fine.

  • Bike paths creates traffic: False, as you can see in the next picture comparing the road surface occupied by 200, the more bikes, the less surface use.

Critical Mass songs

An important part of the Critical Mass and most of the citizen demonstrations is music. Music and songs enhance spirit and turn people into good mood. As it comes to the Critical Mass in Valencia (Spain), here you have some songs and their translations into English. I know they do not sound as funny as in Spanish, but this way you can get an idea of their messages:

– No cuesta un duro

y pone el culo duro:

It doesn’t cost a penny

and gets your butt hard

– La bici en el trasero

y no en el trastero:

Bike in butt

and not in storage rooms

– Mi bicicleta no la cambiaría

ni por la moto de la policía:

I wouldn’t change my bike

even by the police motorbike

– La vida en la bici es la vida mejor

la vida en la bici es la vida mejor

sin gastar

sin gastar

sin contaminar

sin contaminar

poooor la calzada mejor

poooor la calzada mejor

Life on bike is the best life

life on bike is the best life

without wasting

without wasting

without polluting

without polluting

beeeeter on roads

beeeeter on roads

– Tanto coche

es un derroche

So many cars

are a waste

– Los coches oficiales

que vayan a pedales

Should the official cars

go on pedals

– Viva la bici

la hay donde quiera que vas

viva la bici

es lo que nos gusta más

con más gente a favor de bicis en cada pueblo y nación

habrían menos coches y motos

y menos contaminación

Long life bike

it’s everywhere you go

long life bike

that’s what we like the most

with more people in favor of bike in every village and country

there would’ve been less cars and motorbikes

and less pollution

– Carril coche ya

por toda la ciudad

Car lines now

all along the city

From coast to coast

The dream of crossing the USA in bicycle from coast to coast is being built at the time I write this post. Just imagine a bike-friendly, secure, seamless path that connects the Indian and the Atlantic oceans. This is going to be possible soon thanks to The Great American Rail-Trail. This project aims for developing what was once a myriad of railroads which were abandoned long time ago. As I talked about  green paths, such infrastructures can be taken advantage of in order to give them a second life, and when it occurs with a clear intention of improving human lives it becomes even better off.

The Great American Rail-Trail plans traversing 12 states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, plus the district of Columbia. Its vision continues with allowing bikers and pedestrians going down for more than 3,700 miles. Moreover, imagine the economic opportunities and benefits for the local communities along the route between Washington and Washington. More than 145 existing trails hosting route and more than 90 trail gaps are being reviving, the numbers make you dizzy. The Great American Rail-Trail can constitute a landmark in the cycle tourism  and bike development in the USA.

Who is behind The Great American Rail-Trail project? The NGO Rail-to-Trail Conservancy (RTC) started it back in 1986. It has set itself the task of developing a large net of paths along the country. The RTC has gathered public and private financial donations to carry it forward and giving the opportunity to 50 million people every year to enjoy their bicycles and forests, mountains, vast plains or local communities. Plain and gentle slope combine in the impressive paths so that whoever biker can pedal on them.

Paradoxically, the pandemic has made people use more and more bicycles and in turn The Great American Rail-Trail project has been increasingly supported since people is manifestly in promoting bike use.

Ciclosferia

It seems quite odd the fact that there has not been celebrated an offline exhibition on urban biking in Spain so far. It is not so strange the fact that the chosen city to host it is Valencia because of the promotion of this urban movement as it comes to the development of cyclist infrastructures and local laws among others in the last years. The jointed effort of Ciclosfera and the Valencia council, as well as bike stores, brands and workshops, will make it possible. As a result, the Ciclosferia will take place in Valencia, Spain, from 13th to 15th of May 2022.

The shed number 2 in the Valencian La Marina has more than 4,500 squared meters. All this surface will be covered by bike brand stands and everybody will be able to test dozens of bicycles from e-bikes and traditional bicycles to hybrid ones and cargobikes. Besides, circuits, activities for children, raffles, food trucks and concerts guarantee amazing days for bike users next to the Mediterranean see. I almost forget it: It is totally free. A perfect scenario to discover the present and future mobility. A feast in order to spend the day, eat and pedal, enjoy confidently that everything, mobility, health, entertainment and efficiency, goes through bikes.

World Bicycle day

The World Bicycle day was on 19th of April from 1985 to 2018. In April 2018, the United Nations changed the day to 3rd of June thanks to the support of 57 countries. Leszek Sibilski directed the international campaign and associations such as the World Cycling Alliance and the European Cyclist Federation which encouraged it. But why did the World Bicycle day was initially declared on 19th April?

Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemical, was the origin of it. He was the first person who synthesized, ingested and experimented the effects of LSD in 1943. At first, he ingested it in a casual way. Next, he carried out an aware LSD ingestion three days after. As a result, he experienced a more powerful trip than the easy return journey home by bike. He simply went crazy!

Going a step further, bicycles have improved the gender equality. For instance, it allowed women to travel by themselves without the need of any man. According to the suffragette Elizabeth Cady Staton, bicycle is a tool that motivates women to gain strength and assume an increasing role in society. Moreover, the suffragette Susan B. Anthony believed bikes as the most important to emancipate women in the world. However, it is not now just plain sailing.

When women started pedaling, it was said that bikes produced a rare illness called ”bicycle face”. The stupid diagnosis was invented by several doctors in a mixture of ignorance and machismo at that time. Indeed, they feared pedaling would cause women fertility lost, female tuberculosis or even an increment in women libido (this was dangerous in single women, what a nonsense).

Fortunately, these ideas disappeared and we enjoy biking no matter your gender nowadays.

Conbici

Conbici (https://conbici.org, in Spanish) is the Spanish coordinator in defense of bicycles. It gathers 65 Spanish associations and groups, and promotes the use of bikes in a day-to-day basis, no matter how the biker genre or age is. Moreover, Conbici works in order to promote positive legislation to protect everybody, including bikers and pedestrians, who are the weakest actors in streets. Local groups focus on their cities as it comes to urban biking and it has work groups in legislation, mobility, training, health and cycle tourism.

Conbici was born in 1990 and has contributed to the bike movement. It organizes the Iberian Congress “Bicycle and city” together with Portugal since 1996 and promotes the Cycle tourism and urban bikers meetings in Spain or Portugal every two years. Furthermore, it is a member of the Technician Scientific Committee in the European Mobility Week, participates in the Higher Traffic and Circulation Council, work group 44, representing the bikers collective, sits on the European Cyclists’ Federation, became a founder member of the National Bicycle Table and writes and spreads national and international summaries about politics examples which foster bike use as well as sustainability. In addition, Conbici promotes the intermodality of bike plus public transport. What is more, in the Conbici webpage you can read recommendations about how to move on bikes at both, cities and cycle tourism.

One of the key points Conbici has is the wide profile of collaborators. Indeed, it counts with professional people in fields such as urban planning, infrastructures, economy, tourism, legislation, health, education, you name it. This fact makes it possible that Conbici contributes with ideas on a variety of subjects, just like this blog.

As it comes to internal affairs, the General Assembly of Conbici meets to decide the necessary decisions on the addressed issues by consensus twice a year. The General Coordination Council and the Permanent Office are in charge of management.