Friday, August 28, 2009

Men cycling in work clothes

Well, cycling to work in work clothes is the obvious thing to do, isn't it? Not many people in Austria would bother to change clothes or demand a shower at the work place. Well, there might be the occasional guy who decides to change his T-shirt or leaves his jacket at work in the summer. But after all we're just cycling to work and not speeding in a race. No need for a complete transformation or to show off.

Note that the gardener in the upper left picture rides a company bicycle (company being the City of Vienna). This is really untypical and the first time I have seen something like that, so I tried to find out more about it -- and voilà, I found an old article (from May 1999) that mentions such efforts by the city council to try to make their employees set their cars aside. Ten years later, however, I would like to know if they are still at it and if it has made an impact on peoples' choice of transport.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bicyclist robbed bank

You won't believe it, but we had such a headline last week: "Radfahrer überfiel Bank".

So, what does this tell me? At first, it's strange. Why do they mention that it was a "cyclist". It's certainly not common to write headlines like "Pedestrian robbed bank", "Motorist robbed bank" or "Public transport user robbed bank". So, I find it kind of funny that they explicitly mention that in the headline, as if people riding bikes were generally criminals and could be identified by their use of a bicycle.

Secondly, it is of course absolutely eligible to use a bicycle as a get-away vehicle, and it's not the first time that people did actually get away because they were on a bike and the police was not. For that (and only that) reason I'm even tempted to sympathize with the bank robber as he was apparently pretty smart by choosing a bicycle. Well, it's time for the Austrian police to get on bikes too! Once I heard that some of them do, but I've never seen them in real life.

Cycle police in Japan, by Jonathan Fong

Sunday, August 23, 2009

There's a flower on my...saddle!

This is the very useful bike I found a couple of weeks ago as I was going to get a bike. Nice decoration isn't it? It made me thing about the video Anna posted some weeks ago.

Wanna have a ride in this well-decorated bike? Irony out: is this a good service? Do people think about other BiCiNg users? Maybe both? Well, let's take it easy or I should be pulling my hairs out in anger...

Anna from BCN

Friday, August 21, 2009

Putumayo and bicycles

Putumayo is my favorite world music record label. But their CDs don't just contain great music, they also have lovely covers that go with it. Here I've picked some of them that feature cyclists and bicycles as an integral part of life. Simple but impressive. I like it.

Putumayo Kids presents music for children.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An incomplete field study in East Tyrol

I have some relatives in East Tyrol (Osttirol, in German) that I visited for a few days. East Tyrol in the very south of Austria, bordering Italy. To the capital Lienz one can get in a reasonable time from Vienna, but in the rest of East Tyrol it's basically impossible to move around without a car. Well, there is a regional train operating between Lienz and San Candido (in Italy, called Innichen in German), but it's very slow and only connects a few towns. Due to bicycle tourism it runs more often in the summer and it's also fairly easy to bring along bikes. On the other hand, there are no more buses (except school buses), not even taxis, in most of the rural areas although the population is constantly growing.

Due to wide spread settlement it is difficult to operate a good public transport system

My grandma is lucky because she can still walk to the town center on her own and has my cousin looking after her, but for most of the old and young people in East Tyrol living there means heavily depending on people that are entitled and capable to drive a car. Must be very depressing to feel so locked in. My grandma only realized that when my granddad died, who used to drive her around.

Most families own more than one car. The scenery is nice, but they pay a high price for living in houses far away from centers. Strange enough there are also many who choose to live so car-dependent: many build their houses further and further away from basic infrastructure (such that they can't even get a liter of milk without getting in the car) and accept long commutes to work. Bicycles are rarely used on a day-to-day basis.

Cyclist waiting to cross the main road through East Tyrol. Did he go shopping at the petrol station?

However, in the summer one can see many tourists cycling in East Tyrol. Most of them cycle downstream along the Drava cycle path and look like that they only touch a bicycle for one or two weeks in the summer. I'm not really into that type of cycling and I also don't want to promote it (as this is done extensively already), but as part of a field study this is certainly worth mentioning.

Yesterday I read in a newspaper that the city of Lienz supports the purchase of E-bikes by paying 10% (max. 150 €, altogether spends 10.000 €). This is of course a nice gesture and brings bicycles as daily means of transport back into peoples' minds, but similarly to the scraping bonus in Vienna it won't be enough. What cyclists really need is a reasonable infrastructure (e.g. safe bicycle parking in front of shops, restaurants, schools etc.) and bicycle friendly traffic planning and politics. I wasn't particularly looking for it, but I couldn't see any bike path or bike lane in Lienz. And I also couldn't see many cyclists, except road cyclists and tourists. They still have a long way to go, but I wish them good luck in increasing the number of everyday cyclists.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Would you give away your old bike for 70 €?

Since Monday we have something called a Verschrottungsprämie (scraping bonus) for bicycles in Vienna. If one gives away his/her old bicycle and buys a new one (at least worth 140 €) 70 € are refunded. So far the campaign is limited to 500 bikes and only available for persons registered in Vienna. More information at the Standard and the ARBÖ. Altogether that costs 35.000 €. Already after one day people had to be put on the waiting list, but the campaign might be extended.

The term scraping, however, is misleading as the bikes are not actually thrown away but repaired and given away for free to poor people, or sold again. The bonus is a late response to the scraping bonus for cars at the beginning of this year. Back then 30.000 car owners in Austria got 1.500 € refunded for scraping their old car if they bought new ones. That cost 45 Mio €. Maff complained about it earlier in January.

What do you think about it? Would you give away your old bike for 70 € (= 100 $)?

I certainly wouldn't. Maybe my bike isn't worth much more, but although I'll buy a new bike soon I wouldn't get such a cheap but good secondary bike. And after so many years (14, to be precise) I'm also physically and mentally bound to my mountain bike :-).

Still, I can see that this campaign can be a great chance for some people that left their bikes abandoned in the cellar for a couple of years and now want to restart cycling. I think it's a good motivation for them and a good signal to everybody in this city that cyclists are appreciated and welcome. I hope of course that the campaign will be extended, 500 new bikes just can't do the trick.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just a lovely colored frame

Well, I don't even know what bike that is, but I just liked the color so much that I had to take some pictures. It was parked outside the university.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Chrome messenger bag

Since last winter I'm a proud owner of a Chrome bike bag. Chrome was found in Boulder, CO, and operates in San Francisco nowadays. They produce all sorts of messenger bags, backpacks and laptop bags for cycling. Although the bags may seem a bit pricey at first, I must say that their quality is truly outstanding. It's not just that their bags are absolutely waterproof (perfect for cycling in the winter and in rain) -- they are also very comfy and their design is well-thought-out and appealing. Plus, the bags are more or less available in any color combination and size.

Chrome Metropolis in orange/blackChrome Ranchero in brown/black

My choice was a Chrome Citizen messenger bag, all in black. The size (20 liters) feeds my daily needs perfectly. In case of big shopping trips I still have my additional carrier. Why in black and not in a more flashy color? Well, black is elegant and fits all my clothes (they are quite colorful anyhow :-)). Plus, if my bag gets dirty (which happens in the winter a lot) that's hard to see on black. In bad weather conditions other colors may be more useful, but the bag has some reflector bands anyhow.

What I particularly like about my Chrome bag -- apart from weather resistance -- is that it has many different compartments. The cool and comfy shoulder strap (available for right and left hander, by the way) makes it easy to open and close the bag without having to take it completely off. And I can attach my digital camera to the strap, so it's always within reach :-).

What I don't like is that it has no small compartment outside of the big flap. Sometimes it would be nice to have a pocket where I could reach my keys easily (especially when I cycle in skirts that have none). Although the bag is big enough for me, I guess I would go for the slightly bigger model now -- the Chrome Metropolis. Those who don't like the "over the shoulder" design may want to check out their messenger packs instead.

Cycling through Vienna with my black Chrome Citizen

More Information: Chrome International and Chrome Europe

I ordered my bag through Busy Bag (Germany) and received it within 1 (!) day. In Austria there is only one bike shop that I know of that sells some Chrome bags: Ciclopia in Vienna.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rasta riders or what to do with hair

To meet the title I guess I have to post some pictures of rasta cyclists in Vienna ...

How do you like to style your hair when cycling? Any experience with messy hair and how to deal with it?

I currently have shoulder-length hair and mostly just leave it like it is -- simply wild and untamed :-). I like to feel the air flowing through my hair when I'm riding my bike. Only when it's really windy I pin it up or use a hair-band. When I had longer hair I used to tie it back into a ponytail as it's easy and it doesn't get messy this way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Patience pays off

A few months back Maff's old city bike broke down because an ownerless dog ran into his back wheel when he was cycling along the Danube bike path. Although he would have liked to have a new bike immediately, he decided to pick a more substantial and well- equipped bike this time. He choose the Fahrradmanufaktur T-300 in emerald green. Fahrradmanufaktur is a fancy bike producer from Germany. I haven't heard much about them beforehand, but they seem to build a lot of high quality city bikes and I can see more and more of their bikes on the road these days.

I don't know all the details, but the T-300 has an 8-speed gear hub (Shimano Nexus), a hub dynamo (which can be used in on/off/auto mode) and hydraulic caliper brakes. It comes with all essential accessories like fenders, carrier, chain guard, bell and even a small bicycle pump. It doesn't need reflectors on the spokes as there are built-in reflector bands on the tires (which nowadays is almost standard). If I'm not mistaken Maff only paid 700€ for this marvelous bike!

Unfortunately, at the Cooperative Fahrrad in Vienna and even at the Fahrradmanufaktur, they didn't have that bike in his size ready, so he had to use his cyclocross (a Kona "Jake the Snake", in emerald green too) in the meantime.

Well, but patience pays off! Look at that catch!

Maff and the Fahrradmanufaktur T-300 on the way back to Linz (by bike and by train)

By the way, the people at the Cooperative Fahrrad are very competent and have almost everything a cyclist can possibly want (including folding bikes, tandems and even penny-farthing bikes!). What I also like is that the young sales clerk keeps telling me that I have a cool bag. I guess I should introduce you to my messenger bag some time in the future, too ;-).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Photography and cycling

Despite cycling photography is another hobby of mine. Well, I do a lot of pictures with my cheap digital camera, but so far haven't bothered much about taking quality pictures (I'm actually more into analogue photography which is not so good for snapshots). But I do like other people's pics :-).

First of all, there is the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog with lovely pictures from the cycling capital in Denmark which most of you already know. I also really enjoy the photos on Change Your Life. Ride A Bike! and many other blogs.

Apart from that there are of course also a lot of photographers I like that occasionally take pictures of bicycles and cyclists. As I recently saw a documentary about her, I want to mention Annie Leibovitz's great picture of a bicycle in Sarajevo that she took during the war in the 90ies. Quite expressive and sad.

Sarajevo: Fallen bicycle of teenage boy just killed by a sniper, 1994, by Annie Leibovitz

Actually Annie Leibovitz is well-known for her work for the Rolling Stone magazine and Vanity Fair. She takes outstanding and impressive portraits (famous are pictures from a Rolling Stones Tour, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the pregnant Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg in a bath of milk and many more).

Lance Armstrong, 1999, by Annie Leibovitz