Archive | Cycling

Bike Rack Sighting: Market Basket

Bike Rack Sighting : Market Basket, 70 Pleasant Valley Street

Now I can’t swear that this bike rack was in this spot last year….but when I surveyed the city, I didn’t find one. And when I biked to this store I ended up chaining my bike to a pillar. So, kudos to Market Basket/Demoulas for adding another bike rack to Methuen.


Good news / bad news

cvsbikerackWe have good news! Last year Methuen Rail Trail requested CVS on Broadway install a bike rack. Last month, when they did the repairs from the flooding, they installed a bike rack, however they installed it sideways. There is not enough room on either side for a bike to park, not people to pass. I have already requested that they turn it.

Landmark road rage incident in CA

Bicycling magazine called it “the road rage incident heard ’round the cycling world.”

A driver in Los Angeles was recently convicted of using his car as a weapon against two cyclists. And the case is focusing attention on the often uneasy relationship between motorists and bicyclists who have to share the road.

It happened last year on the Fourth of July, on a steep, narrow road in L.A.’s Mandeville Canyon. Cyclists Christian Stoehr and Ron Peterson were riding side by side when a doctor who lived in the neighborhood came up from behind in a sedan.

“There was an exchange of words,” Stoehr recalls. “He then accelerated within five feet in front of us, pulled over and slammed on the brakes.”

Stoehr says there was no time for them to stop. He was thrown over the car and landed across the road. But Peterson didn’t have time to swerve.

“And he went right in through the back window of the car,” says Stoehr, adding that Peterson crashed headfirst. “I think they found his teeth in the back seat.”

(continue reading and listen to podcast)

Why is Methuen hostile to bikes?

That’s it. In a nutshell. It is not that Methuen doesn’t care about people on bikes, as a community we don’t seem to WANT people on bikes. Obviously not on the roads, as any biker can tell you of close calls with scary cars and broken curbstones, but they don’t even want to just let bikers ‘BE’.

In celebration of today’s Bike to Work day or week or whatever they hell it is, I figured I’d do what I could and use my bike to do a bit of shopping over at Twaites. (I am still not brave enough to try to go so far as Stop and Shop or Demoulas.) I got across Gaunt Square easy peasy and decided to take our lovely scenic bridge and skip the challenge that is Five Corners. And THAT’s when I almost took a header on this lovely freaking surprise. The morons at Mill Falls Apartment took their damaged and never installed bike rack from the parking lot and tossed it onto the bridge. If I weren’t going so slowly I wouldn’t be typing to you now, I’d be sitting somewhere with a gash on my head wondering what the hell just happened.

Now I know they don’t WANT a bike rack there else they would have one that was properly installed and wasn’t dented by snow plows, but simply shoving it out of the way like this is irresponsible.


Nevertheless I DID make it to Twaites and took a little side trip to Mexico Lindo to pick up a few noshes. Ignoring the fact that as a city we have about 7 bike racks to our name. (45 thousand people 7 bike racks..go figure) But I did have a nicely bloodless trip.

Now I need to find some removable panniers if I am going to do this kind of thing on a regular basis. Cause right now I am wishing I had stopped at Rostens and bought a few beers. So I can sulk in silence. Is it just too much to ask why we don’t like BIKES here?



life is skittles and life is beer

Mud season is here in New England . . . that means spring can’t be far away! Time to roll out your bike, old new, expensive or cheap, if they can be ridden they should be ready to be ridden. Here are some tips to get your bike ready for another year of cycling. If you get it done straight away, then there is no reason not to go for a ride as soon as the spirit moves you. My first instinct when the sun peak out and melted the ice on the drive was to roll ‘Daisy’ right into the living room and get started.

If you have kids have them cleaning their own bike, especially if you are cleaning yours at the same time. Get them into the habit of taking care of their bikes and they will make your investment in their bike last longer.

Cleaning – I am always amazed how many people just park their bike and spend little time cleaning it. Any conscientious biker will wipe down their bike before and after each use. Dirt, grime and road salt are so easy to avoid. and cleaning it off will easily extend the life of your bike and its moving parts. Clean everything tires, rims, seat, chain, chain rings, cassette, derailleurs, pedals, brakes, even your basket and panniers. Many people have recommended Simple Green, but any good biodegradable cleaner will do, I try to stay away from harsh chemicals because i don’t want to lose the ancient decals on my bikes.

Tires – Check tires for splits, cracks,and tread for uneven excessive wear. Replace the tires if needed. Tires and tubes are relatively cheap, and much cheaper than having blow out on the road just because it needed to be replaced.

Wheels – Clean the rims with a cloth and rubbing alcohol, some of the road tars are tough to remove. If your bike is ancient like mine, rust and spots on the chrome can be tackled with a good chrome polish. There is even biodegradable non toxic chrome polish that even kids can use. Check the balance of the wheel does it spin straight or is it untrue? If you can make the minor adjustments to the wheel with a spoke wrench go for it, if not take the wheel to the shop and get it up on a truing stand. Uneven wheels cause brake wear, difficulty steering and a bumpy ride.

Brakes – Check the brake pads, make sure they are wearing evenly. If they have any uneven wear, get new ones, they are another inexpensive item that can save you lots of trouble being replaced before they become a problem. Check the brake cables, do the pads strike the rim at the same time when applied? Adjust the brake arm tension screws so the brakes are even.

Chain – Elevate the rear wheel and spin the pedals, you may need help doing this unless you have a stand, you can always use the bike rack on your car. You should be able to shift through all the rear gears smooth; if it skips any gears try adjusting your rear derailleur. If the problem persists take it to the shop, if you use your bike a lot you may just need a new chain. They are relatively inexpensive and are another thing to keep in perfect working order to prevent problems on the road. If you can change the chain yourself you probably don’t need my advice, I only have 3 gears and they are all internal.

Lubrication – get out the bike lube, apply even coat to the chain, on the inside and outside of each link and between the pins and rollers. Let is set and then wipe off the excess with a rag. Apply lube to all the pivot points on the front and rear derailleur, as well as any hinges and levers on the brakes.

Check your gear – If you have a seat bag with essentials, check to make sure everything is in order. For just kicking around town I carry a first aid kit, a spare tube, tire levers, puncture patches, multi-tool, c-wrench, pen note pad, small bungee cords, zip ties, a bandanna, disposable camera.

Springs coming get ready to ride.


Final Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan

Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan

Download or View the Final Report in PDF format(882 kb) September 2008.

Download the Complete Printable PDF in Zip format(2,194 kb)

The Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan prepared by the Executive Office of Transportation, continues to advance bicycle transportation by:

  • Providing a comprehensive inventory of existing on-road and off-road facilities (shared use paths), projects in the pipeline, and long-term facility proposals
  • Recommending a 740-mile, seven-corridor Bay State Greenway (BSG) network consisting of on-road and off-road facilities bound by a single identity and including on-road routes that parallel shared use paths
  • Providing an implementation strategy aimed at launching the BSG initially as mostly an on-road system, geared to both utilitarian and recreational travel, and complemented by a long-term investment strategy
  • Recommending other programmatic enhancements and interagency initiatives

Sponsored by Federal Highway Administration
Prepared for Executive Office of Transportation


reading and riding

In my quest to check out all the local rail-rail trails, I did pick up a few books on the subject.

New England Biking
(2005) by Melissa Kim is your general travel guide. It lists some bike rides in all the states that incorporate road biking and trail biking, but obviously doesn’t focus on rail trails. It does index all these trails by scenery, difficulty, distance etc…if you are interested in expanding your biking opportunities all over New England this is a damn fine book with good general maps and explicit directions (something you don’t often see. (author’s site)

Rail-Trails New England (2007) from the Official Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the official guidebook to same. It covers trails in various states of development including some that are more appropriate for mountain biking. Lovely book it also includes the contact info for the caretaker organization. Hopefully this book will do nothing but get bigger in future but it is a great overview of the state of multi-use trails in New England. (publisher’s site)

New Hampshire Rail Trails by Charles F Martin is one of my favorite books thus far. Trying to be all inclusive Martin has included proposed but likely trails such as Salem’s Bike-Ped corridor. It has good maps and directions, but the books appeal is the integration of the history of railroad right of way with the present use of the property and dense with images of the roads, buildings, bridges and waterways that surround the trails. I seriously wish there was a similar book for the Massachusetts side of the line. (author’s website)

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