Saturday, May 30, 2009

Velosophie 2.0

Yesterday the fourth velosophie magazine was published. That's a funky and free magazine dealing with bicycle culture in Austria that was established last year. The online versions are available here (in German). Hard copies can be found in several bike stores all over Austria. Grab it and read it or simply look at the spacy photographs in there!

In the current issue there is amongst others an interview with Heiner Monheim (who initiated the Radlust campaign in Germany) and one with Luud Schimmelpennink (about shared bike systems in Europe), some news about E-bikes, the cultural capital Linz, cool accessories and bikes for urban cycling, a bike trip through Africa (check out their English website) and so on.

But it gets even better! Yesterday Austria's first bicycle culture community was launched as well. If you're also based here make sure you check out and register yourself. There's also a blog that keeps you informed about bicycles in daily life, bike culture, news etc. My humble self is one of the currently five bloggers. And of course I'm looking forward to learn from different perspectives and have inspiring discussions.

Get involved too and let's work on an outstanding and diverse bike culture in Austria (and everywhere else)!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Are you a bike punk?

What actually is a bike punk?
A punk that bikes? Is that all? Is it about anarchy on the road? I don't think so. Is it a guy/girl that rides a fixie with spoke cards and that plays bike polo on the weekends? Far too stereotypical (e.g. mountain and road bikes are also commonly used), but getting close I suppose..

"hard court bike polo" by "kitty meets goat"

Do you have to (re)build your bike yourself to be part of the crowd? I guess that helps as it's also about creativity and spending little money. Are only bike couriers allowed? And what about clothing? Punk-like clothing I'd say.
But is that all? Or is it not that at all?

How to be a bike punk?
Yes, there is even a funny How-to on the internet! So let's see what I fulfill:
  • buy a bike and value it almost as much as your own life: done
  • get committed: done, no car
  • bicycle safety: learned, so fine
  • bicycle as the primary form of transportation: what else?
  • cycle in rain and sunshine: easy-peasy
  • attend critical mass (see what that is here): if possible
  • unique clothing: well, kind of, but probably still too mainstream
  • ...
Hm, I don't own a fixie though, and I yet don't have any cards in my spokes (but a sticker on my top tube that says "one less car" -- does that count?). I also never played bike polo. Therefore I wouldn't consider myself as bike punk. But all of that is not mentioned in the how-to anyway. So maybe I am a bike punk sensu lato ;-). What about you?

Well, honestly, who really gives a shit? Whatever you are, cycle on!

I found that cool redo of the Clash cover on the Three Basics blog

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Anna from BCN:

This already happened last month but it was a new funny experience. Anna paid me a surprise visit for my 25th birthday. And we spend my birthday's day doing something none of the both of us had ever done before: riding a tandem a friend of my sister lent us. I must say it was one memorable birthday!

It all began the night before, when we got to my hometown, Vilafant (near Figueres, north-east Spain, 20 km from France). During supper we talked about a picture of two men on a tandem I had posted in this blog some time before. We said it would be nice to try one. And my sister told us she might get one. And we got the tandem!

It is not as difficult as I thought before: the one in front has the whole control, the one behind only needs to keep pace. The most complicated part, at least for me, was beginning to ride. It is then when synchronizing with the other rider is essential to avoid falling. Balance also plays its role as well. If the back rider does not start at the same time as the front one, then the bike moves a lot. However, once you are pedaling things get much smoother and you really enjoy it.

The only danger I see is tandeming with a faster rider than you in the front. Or with a brother who is delighted at the thought of becoming a bit crazy and riding so fast than you cannot keep pace with him and you have to stop pedaling if you appreciate your unbroken feet (just exaggerating and kidding).

Of course one can ride the tandem alone but it is not really the same, as a tandem is meant for two. And besides, riding a tandem alone makes one feel a bit insecure as the balance is not the same and the size is not the same.

anna and Anna riding a tandem around Vilafant

anna from Vienna:

It was really a lot of fun. With some practice, I guess, two people can go pretty fast on a tandem. But as Anna already said -- the one in the front is in control of everything and some confidence is needed ;-). Wouldn't mind to have a tandem in a shed to be able to go for a ride with friends.

The advantage of a tandem is also that the second person doesn't need that much of an experience riding in traffic. Therefore it could be very useful for families, old and disabled people.

Anna's whole family enjoying the tandem

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why are only losers riding a bicycle?

Well, obviously I don't talk about real life. It's about stereotypes though.

For example, in many movies (especially American mainstream movies) it's generally the warm-hearted loser that rides a bicycle. The bicycle there stands for low intelligence, no money and not being able to manage one's life. The successful business guy drives a big SUV, has a huge house in the suburbs and a beautiful wife. And yes, it's guys. Women are mostly just by-products.

Owen Wilson in "You, Me and Dupree"

Ok, this is also cliché and certainly not true for all movies including bicycles. But it's symptomatic and many people absorb these clichés automatically without even trying to get to the bottom of it. Is it that what keeps them from riding a bicycle? I think it's at least part of the truth.

I just found a blog that deals with exactly this subject -- the bicycle in popular culture. Interesting, how other people draw similar conclusions. Well, form an opinion yourself and let me know what you think.

By the way, a similar concept is used in "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" staring Steve Carell. There's even the line "Everybody rides a bicycle ... until they are 6 years old".

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guys on bikes

In Vienna there are many guys on bikes, but unfortunately most of them are rather unfashionable. Well, there are also exceptions. Here are some:

Left: guy with cool hat, Middle: guy in suit and newspaper on the carrier (very rare), Right: not so fashionable guys, but ok

Who wouldn't want to wait behind them at a red light? ;-)

Sadly, I have say that most of these guys here didn't respect some traffic laws. Except the one in the left picture they all don't mind riding in the wrong direction of one-way bike paths/lanes. The men in the right picture even directly waited on the arrow pointing in the opposite direction (although I have to admit, that the only other option to get from that point to the other side of the ring road is to carry the bike down and up the stairs of a pedestrian underpass).

Thursday, May 21, 2009


It's 1 o'clock am and I'm cycling with number 13421 Bicing bike (one of the brand-new ones!) across Diagonal's wide bike lane in Barcelona. Diagonal is usually a crowded street but now there are only a few cars. I am alone with the bike, cycling back home after meeting a friend I had not seen for months.

I walked about 15 min to get to station with a bike and I got a good bike (the only one left). The brakes worked, the gears too and I did not even need to adjust the saddle. First, what else could I ask for?

Then the breeze at the wide cycling lane. I close the eyes just one second to become aware of the moment. I open them again. On the right hand side the trees curve towards the lane (those trees that give refreshing shade during the day): beautiful dark green leaves over my head. And me and the bike, no other bikes coming from the other direction nor anybike before or behind me. Just me.

My thoughts fly. To Anna's visit last month, to the friend I have just seen, to my whole life, to the thing I feel I am living. It is me, at 1 h am.

And then, when I leave Diagonal's bike lane, I enter the cozy streets of my quarter, Les Corts. No cars, no noise. The reflection of me cycling on a dark glass. There is no one on the street but, still, I feel safe.

I experience momentary bliss. I can't say why. It's something bigger than me that seizes me. I forget about my troubles, I feel safe. I cannot explain. And maybe all this already sounds stupid to you (as it sounds a bit to me now...but it is not stupid)

I am sad to leave the bike. I reach home and decide I will write about it. I realisedwe can find normal things so extraordinary sometimes. This time it was me, the bike and the refreshing spring breeze of a 15-16th May night in Barcelona.

Number 13421 bike, or the bike of bliss

Anna from BCN

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Subversive fair in Linz

Linz is the European capital of culture 2009, and last weekend a subversive fair (Subversivmesse) took place in the harbor.
Our friends from Vienna's bike kitchen had a stand there, and also had taken their workshop with them to repair, pimp and up-cycle bicycles. My friend Daniela and me joined on Saturday to construct a chopper bike from some old bikes. Special thanks to Max and Oskar from bike kitchen for their support and next time I'll take the chance to build a tall-bike!

On Sunday afternoon some bike competitions took place at the Danube. Sadly I missed bike bungee but was there for tall-bike jousting and bike jump.

I had a lot of fun. Hope you enjoy these pictures!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beer transport

The temperature rises and every day I see more and more cyclists out and about. And every day I discover tons of bike-related topics to write about ;-). Where to start today? Maybe last things first..

On my way home from university I met my flatmate. She wanted to buy some beer for her party this weekend, but the nearest shop was already sold out (they had a cheap offer). So she asked me where the next one is and whether I would help her carry some. As I had to buy some milk anyway, that wasn't really a long way round for me.

Each of us carried 24 cans (à la 0.5l) of Ottakringer beer. Although we are both skinny girls that's peanuts. I guess we could have carried even more, especially on the downhill part, but our bikes weren't set up for that. Still, I'm quite happy with my new carrier and the expanders ;-).

If we can do it, you can, too.

Today's beer transport

By the way, did I ever tell you about the German term Radler? It has two different meanings:
  1. cyclist: Bicycle in German means Fahrrad (short form: Rad) and the person who rides a Rad is therefore called a Radler.

  2. beer with soda: The Radler is a common refreshing drink in some parts of Europe, especially in the German speaking countries. It comes in different variations. In Vienna it is a mix of pale lager and soda pop, for example Sprite. Where I come from this would be called "süßer Radler" (sweet Radler), in contrast to the "saurer Radler" (sour Radler) which is a mix with sparkling mineral water instead of a soda pop.

    It's possible to buy prefabricated Radler, but they are quite sweet and I can't recommend them. But if you are keen to experiment you can order an Almradler here in Austria -- a mix of pale lager and our herbal soda Almdudler. I don't like it.

    You may wonder why this drink is also called Radler. Well, this is obvious: It's simply because cyclists are thirsty! Read more on Wikipedia.
Radler filling station ;-)

Whether you like beer or Radler or not -- I wish you a nice evening. Prost!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dear flatteneres

I know you guys are quite busy, but may I ask for your attention for a minute. I guess you don't know me, therefore I will let my bike talk. Today, after work, I was at the Cineplexx Reichsbrücke to watch “Slumdog Millionaire” with a friend. As there were no bike racks where I could safely lock my bike to (although there is free parking available for costumers that drive a car), I used the railing instead. This seems to be a common spot as there were also other bikes. And maybe you go there more often to check out on the bikes.

So when the movie was over and we returned to my bike, I found it with a flat tire. Well, you know, I still have my spare inner tube that impatiently waits to be used. But I had to disappoint it again. Apparently my front tire – as you know – didn't have a puncture, because you just removed my cap and let my air out. Although I'm grateful that I only had to inflate it again (that didn't even take a minute), my spare inner tube is rather frustrated now. I don't really want the treatment that one of my friends recently got (both of his tires were gashed and beyond repair), but I wouldn't mind if you eliminate the inner tube of my front wheel forever.

For that purpose I will use my bike as I always did – as a simple means of transport in the urban environment –, and also park it outside. May you enjoy to demolish other peoples' belongings and hopefully vent your anger by deflating their bikes.

Yours faithfully,

PS: I still had fun on my ride back home ;-P.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Albert Einstein and bicycles

Well, I guess everybody knows the physicist Albert Einstein, but not many people actually understand the theories he invented and the importance of them. He was an amazing and intelligent person for sure.

And what I particularly appreciate is his attitude towards cycling. There are many quotes about life and cycling related to Albert Einstein. I'm not sure whether they are actually originally his, but they're good anyhow.

Albert Einstein riding his bicycle in Santa Barbara, 1933

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."

"I thought of that while riding my bicycle."
(on the theory of relativity)

More interesting quotations about cycling from various people here and on thinkexist. Any quotations of famous people you particularly like?

I also like what Christian Ude (mayor of Munich, Germany) says about cyclists:
"Können wir Leute in Spitzenpositionen brauchen, die zu ängstlich sind, eine Innenstadt radelnd zu durchqueren? Natürlich nicht. Lasst endlich die Radler ran!"

"Do we want people in leading positions that are too scared to cross a city center on a bicycle? Of course not. Let cyclists get at it!"
He also wrote a book called "Stadtradeln" (Citycycling). Something I want to read in the near future.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What the Greens in Europe do for cycling

At the beginning of June we will have the elections for the European parliament in the EU. This is a very important opportunity to take part in decision-making. Concerning cycling, and a positive promotion of it, I found some cool videos of the European Greens where they explain what kind of measures have been implemented throughout our cities. Here are just a few examples (all in English resp. with English subtitles):

Christoph Chorherr talks about a car-free estate in Vienna (I tried to get a flat there but it's impossible because the demand is so high -- but they want to build a second one :-)). He also writes a very interesting blog (in German). The Greens in the 2nd district do that too.

Jenny Jones tells us how biking can help against the traffic chaos. By the way, Trisha and Dottie have recently visited London and wrote something about it in their blog.

The Green mayor Dieter Salomon talks about the nearly car-free district Vauban. Although it is a well-known fact that Freiburg has a very high number of cyclists I didn't know about Vauban until I read it in blog.

For more videos explore the YouTube channel of the European Greens yourself. There you may also find the videos with subtitles in other languages (I didn't check that, but it would make sense). And there are of course also videos about other green topics, e.g. how the sun is used in Barcelona, squatters in Helsinki, about how geothermal energy is used in Paris and so on. A lot of exciting, sustainable and future-oriented projects in Europe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Car driver shouting at me

Today I had one of these very very rare arguments with a passenger in a car. I was approaching a stop sign (and a traffic jam) and the car driver still tried to overtake me. But as there was no more room for the car he couldn't make it, the passenger opened the window and started shouting at me "Do you think the road belongs to you?!".

WTF?! Of course I don't think that, but I have to ride in a safe distance from parked cars and that's what I told him (regrettably I couldn't stay calm and started shouting back). And by the way, I think that the roads still belong to cars here and that's the real cause why all of us get stuck. Unfortunately. If you're not able to operate a car or any other vehicle in the rush hour without losing your temper, then you simply shouldn't.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Law of conservation of punctures

If somebody would have asked me at the beginning of January, how many flat tires I usually have per year, I would honestly have said "none". Now, times have changed, and this number has increased rapidly. Today I repaired my 7th puncture for this year -- I had 3 on the back wheel and 4 on the front wheel. On the back wheel I have a new inner tube now and never had problems ever since. And I will also change the inner tube of the front wheel tonight.

Some people say that if you have puncture once, you're very likely to have more. It's a kind of conservation law -- the series of punctures will continue. I don't believe in that. But I believe in fatigue of material. The last three punctures on the front wheel I all had inside, and they were quite big (today's puncture was nearly 1cm). My inner tube has problems with the rim as far as I can tell, as it got too brittle over the years.

Hopefully, after changing the inner tube on the front wheel, this series of punctures will stop for a while. Ok, I got a little bit angry when I walked out of the university on these evenings, just wanted to get home and had yet another flat tire, but it also has some positive sides: By now I'm an expert in repairing punctures ;-). I'm pretty fast and don't cover myself in dirt (except the hands).

In case you never repaired a flat tire, don't worry -- it is very easy. Almost every repair kid includes instructions, and many can be found in the internet, e.g. How to mend a puncture (which includes the very interesting "art of cycle maintenance"), The easy way to repair a puncture and Patschen picken (in German).

Well, so by now, on average, I have about 1 puncture/year . How many do you have? Can anyone beat my 7 flat tires for this year? I just hope I won't...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cycling from A to B without getting lost

Although I dislike many many things in the Viennese bicycle infrastructure I must admit, that the city also does a lot of good things for cyclists. I already mentioned the Citybikes and the rain ponchos. Today I will talk about another practical thing -- the bike route planner. I hope this is also interesting for non-Viennese people although you will probably never use it.

The bike route planner is available on the homepage of the city council: Radroutensuche (in German only)

It's a very simple tool. You just type in the start and end point and optionally also stopovers.
Moreover you get to choose between a safe route and a short route. I tend to use the safe route, because in general it's faster and easier to remember.
The average speed is by default set to 15 km/h, which I find to be a good estimate (but can be changed).
Once everything is typed in one just has to click on "Radroute erstellen".

After a few seconds a map with the computed route pops up. Further details can be displayed, e.g. Citybike stations and bicycle parking (generally, zooming in is required to see these items).
Moreover, it's possible to download a pdf that contains the map and also a description of the route. I can't recommend the description, because you probably don't want to take out that paper every 20m to find out that you have to go straight on anyway. On the contrary, the map doesn't contain all street names and it's therefore advisable to carry a proper city map.
It's also possible to download GPS data, but I never had a use for that.

Possible improvements
It would be handy if different routes (e.g. safe and short) could be displayed on one map rather than having to compute it all over again. Many one-way streets that are open for cyclists in both directions are not contained in the route planner (leads to unnecessary bypasses). Funny, but true -- the bike route planner also computes routes that contain a lot of walking although better alternative routes are available. I found this especially in the city center. Well, sometimes walking the bike is a good solution, but not to that extend.

I don't use the bike route planner much, cause from experience I already know the best, shortest and safest routes that I need most. However, when I want to explore new terrain, I tend to view the output of the system and then adjust the route as I like. I have a conventional bike map of Vienna that is perfect for that and also convenient to carry around: Radatlas Wien published by Esterbauer (although mine is out of date already). These three things -- my sense of orientation, the online bike route planner and my city map -- work well for me and so far I never got lost.

There is, however, another application of the bike route planner that I used extensively: When I moved flat, I used it to find out how long I have to cycle from different addresses to university/work/shopping etc. (same thing with the public transport planner). I found that a natural thing to do, but I also know people that moved to the suburbs and then complained that they have such a long way to work, poor public transport and therefore unfortunately "have to" commute by car. Well, look before you leap, that's all I say... ;-)

And how do you get from A to B? Do you use maps? If yes, special bike maps or just normal city or car maps? Did you ever get lost?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A revolutionary bike light

Yesterday I checked out the website of the Citybiker bike shop in Vienna for new bikes. But what actually drew my attention was this:

Deadly, eh? ;-)

Check out the MonkeyLectric light on their website. The Citybiker sells it for 70€.

Monday, May 4, 2009

European Green Bikes for Peace - Tour calls for participants

The European Green Bikes for Peace - Tour is a European Union funded cycling tour under the sign of climate protection and sustainability.

It will take place in Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. It starts in Koper (ITA) on June, 19th and will end in Pecs (HUN) on July, 19th. Among participants from five European countries at least five young Austrian cyclists (less than 30 years old) have the possibility to join the tour for free (including boarding and lodging, and railway transfers). There will be cultural and environmental workshops as well as live stream broadcasting, and a good time on the road. All you need are a touring bike, a sleeping bag, some pocket money, love of adventure, and the willingness to take active part in the events.

More information about the tour and how to apply for it can be found on the official website and on ig fahrrad. The closing date for applications is May, 25th.

Have fun and see you in Linz for the International Danube Day on June, 29th!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A quiet weekend

Today I finally got a second-hand carrier for my bike (maff had a spare one). Immediately I bought one of these cool expanders that I once saw in the Netherlands. Not many bikes have them here, but they are really practical. The next investment (apart from a new urban bike) will probably be one of those cool Basil Mirte shopper bike bags. Well, I also had a look for a new bike, but today I saw nothing eye-catching.

1. my bike with the new carrier 2. other stuff I bought (bike oil, cleaning spray, repair kit, inner tube) 3. Basil Mirte bag

I also bought the Falter (an Austrian weekly newspaper) cause their top story is "The future of the automobile -- about the deep crisis of a former status symbol". The main article can be read online here (in German). It also contains some interesting information about how the USA lost their public railway system by e.g. replacing trams by buses (that's what they say happened in Los Angeles massively). Apparently not everybody in the USA believes the story around Bradford Snell's report and some people simply call it a conspiracy theory. Well, I'm not really an expert on that, but I tend to believe what the Falter says cause it's a very serious newspaper. But they also claim that cars probably would also have ruled the world without GM destroying the public transport system in the USA. What do you know about it?

But well, it also happened in Europe that many tram lines were closed in the first half of the last century and are only rebuilt now, e.g. in Dublin, Barcelona and many other major cities. Unfortunately, it takes much longer for good things to come back then it took to destroy them. But at least they come back :-).