Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Metro Bicycle Master Plan

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bikes Now!

There is a bike story blog out there called Veloquent. I don't write anything for it and neither does Mark Parman. But he should, this is from Silent Sports.

Bicycling with Mark Parman

Winter riding is better now than when I was a kid

One December Sunday morning when I was a kid delivering the Des Moines Register, my bike slid out on an ice-covered corner. A dusting of new fallen snow hid the ice on the road so when my tires slid across the slippery surface then caught the pavement, I high-sided and tumbled.

The crash dumped over half of the thick Sunday papers in my steel baskets, and when they caught the northwest wind, they scattered down the block. That summer when mowing a lawn for a widow in town, I discovered a front page from one of those Registers entangled in one of her bushes.

My customers, the ones that didn't get that Sunday paper, weren't happy. I remember thinking that my crash probably ruined my chances for Christmas gifts from my route customers. No chocolate-covered peanuts for me. One of my customers was so mad when I came to collect a few days later that he threw the money at me as I stood in his front door. A quarter thrown with enough velocity does indeed sting.

Back then, I had two choices for delivering papers: walk or ride. On Sunday, I usually rode because stuffing the papers in the rear baskets loaded the bike down instead of me. The Sunday papers, with their extra sections plus the thick, glossy Christmas ads, really bit into my shoulder. So I rode, even though my bike – a coaster-brake Sears and Roebuck with skinny bald tires – wasn't much for winter riding.

Today, 30-some years later, I have a much better bike for winter riding, which is good because my body doesn't react as well as a teenager's to a fall on concrete. These days, we have much better technology to combat winter's severe conditions, so much better that I now have little excuse not to ride through the long dark arctic months. The mountain bike, although it wasn't specifically designed with winter riding in mind, has made riding year-round practical. Its wide, knobby tires, along with its longer wheelbase and lower gears, make it a much better bike than the one I crashed on delivering the Sunday paper.

This winter I'm pedaling an old Gary Fisher Mt. Tam, a 29'er I've slowly built over the years into my winter commuter. In the snow and slush, I prefer the bike's bigger wheels. It may just be psychological but the taller tires seem to go through snow and slush more efficiently than a 26-inch wheel. For winter, I mounted 29-by-2.2 knobbies, going with the widest tires in my stash. These tires have no problem with snow, even when I have to bash through the crusted snowbanks piled up along the sides of the road. I have yet to put on studded tires for the one or two days that I need them.

If the roads are particularly icy, like they are after a freezing rain, I drive my four-wheel drive truck, joining the tin can commuters and feel much safer encased in 2 tons of steel and plastic than I do on an exposed bicycle. My wife razzes me about caving and driving on icy days and says I should walk instead.

Since my commute uses some of the busiest roads in Wausau, Wisconsin, I'd rather be safe than stupid on the few really slippery winter days. It's not that I fear falling or sliding into a telephone pole. I simply don't trust the other drivers, some of whom feel that four-wheel drive, ABS brakes and air bags have rendered them invincible. If my bicycle was my only means of transportation, however, I would definitely look into studded tires.

Last year, I simplified my Fisher, installing a rigid fork and a singlespeed crank so I could run 1-by-9 gearing. The salt and crud coming off the roads wreaks havoc on the bike's drivetrain and rusts the chains and cables. So I went with a single chain ring up front and one less derailleur. I considered putting on disk brakes but decided against it since having that much stopping power on ice and snow would perhaps be a liability rather than an asset. My bike also has removable fenders and bright lights, which are imperative for riding in the winter when the dark nights start late afternoon.

But changes in technology haven't applied only to my bikes. Clothing and accessories have evolved dramatically, too. I already mentioned lights. Old-school lights were either the handlebar-mounted kind that ran weakly for a few hours on AA batteries or the generator types that used a drive wheel that rubbed against the front tire, eating away at the sidewall. After a few rides, the cords in the casing might be exposed from all of the friction.

As a kid, I didn't have Gore-Tex boots, flannel-lined jeans, lobster claw mittens and a balaclava. Or, for that matter, a bicycle helmet. I never thought to wear my Cleveland Browns' football helmet when cycling. I rode in the clothes that I had on, which in winter meant a green Army parka and Sorel boots. Because I was usually cold when I rode, I mostly gave up riding and walked. Once in a while when I was late for school in cold weather, I'd hop on my bike and pedal madly to the schoolhouse. I can still hear the crank arm clanking against the kick stand on every revolution and feel the sting of the cold though my jeans and burning my thighs. I have plenty of good memories from those days, but I don't miss the old technology.

With gas prices dropping precipitously in the past month (it's $2.32 a gallon as I write this), some commuters might be tempted to hang up their bikes in the garage for the winter, the cold and ice and darkness looming larger and more menacing than the price of gasoline. When the temperature drops into the single digits or lower, it's seductively easy to jump in the car and drive. No one would blame us.

For me, though, winter bike commuting isn't entirely about saving money or reducing my carbon output, although those are reasons enough to keep riding all year. Winter riding is also about facing the elements and winning, not letting Old Man Winter win. Maybe that's a macho Jack Londonesque way of approaching the world. Regardless, riding at this time of year makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like a kid again. A kid pedaling a much better bike.

Mark Parman lives in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he teaches English and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County. He bought his first serious bike, a Raleigh Competition, in 1982 and hasn't stopped riding since.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


The Bike Library is closed for Winter Break until January 24, 2009.

If you are a patron who needs to return a bike during that time, please email us at iowacitybikelibrary at to make arrangements.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Open House and Party


(short program at 5:15)
408 E College Street

Following the open house
Old Capital Brew Works, 525 S Gilbert St.
6:00pm until completion
Please join us in celebrating the volunteers that have made this project such a great success! Free pizza and conversation!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Partnership with Working Bikes Cooperative

A couple of fine young gentlemen (Raul and Nick) from the Working Bikes Cooperative in Chicago visited the Bike Library this past week and collected some of our overflow bikes. The Iowa City Police Department and the folks at the Johnson County landfill had a couple of hundred bikes to donate as well. Because we lack storage this is another option for us to make excellent use of community donations.

Here’s some info on WBC that I pulled from their website:

The Working Bikes Cooperative is a not-for-profit tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization which diverts bicycles from the waste stream in Chicago by repairing them for sale and charity. Working Bikes is primarily volunteer-driven. Currently it receives no government or foundation money. All its operations are funded through the sale of bicycles at its storefront. Working Bikes uses that money to provide bicycles to charity organizations within Chicagoland and to ship bicycles to the Gulf Coast, Ghana, Tanzania, Angola, Cuba, Guatemala, and Peru. In the countries to which Working Bikes ships, a bicycle can often mean the difference between work and unemployment. The bicycle is the primary means of vehicular transportation for the majority of the population and is used both for personal transportation and for carrying cargo. Due to wage differences, a bicycle worth $20 in Chicago can be worth the equivalent of $1,000 in Africa. Each year Working Bikes gives away over 5,000 bicycles locally and internationally. It distributes about 500 bicycles and wheelchairs in the Chicago area alone: to City programs, refugees and day camps. Local Partners include:
  • Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation
  • Blackstone Bicycle Works
  • Chicago Department of the Environment Greencorps
  • City of Chicago After School Matters
  • Heartland Alliance Refugee Center
  • Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture
  • Mayor Daley’s Bicycling Ambassadors
  • Mercy Housing in Chicago’s Austin Neighborhood
  • Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR)
  • The Resource Center
  • West Town Bikes
  • World Relief Chicago
National Partners include:
  • Biloxi - Hands On Gulf Coast
  • New Orleans - Common Ground, Plan B & RUBARB
International Partners include:
  • Angolia - Share Circle
  • Cuba - Saint Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association
  • Ghana - Patriensa
  • Ghana - Village Bicycle Project
  • Guatamala - Maya Pedal
  • Nicaragua - Peaceworks
  • Peru - Corprodeli
  • Tanzania - Global Alliance Africa
  • Zambia - Hands of Hope

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bicycle Commuter Act

Not sure how this is going to help with the financial crisis, but the bicycle commuter act finally passed as part of the bailout bill.

(i) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- The term `qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement' means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee's residence and place of employment.

The full text is available on the League of American Bicyclists website.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Good Read

Mark Parman is an old Iowa City rider, he wrote this for

Mark Parman lives in Wausau, Wisconsin, where he teaches English and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County. He bought his first serious bike, a Raleigh Competition, in 1982 and hasn't stopped riding since.

It will take a 'grass routes revolution'

While listening to Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, right after his bit about limiting our children's TV viewing, I thought to myself wouldn't it be far-sighted if he followed up with an announcement that the bicycle would be an integral part of his energy and transportation plan? I didn't hold my breath waiting. He didn't mention the bicycling, and I don't expect him to do so in the future, not when the TV cameras are rolling anyway. It's not something the average American wants to hear.

On the other side of the aisle, McCain announcing that the bicycle could solve some of our problems (pollution, congestion, obesity, high energy costs) is about as likely as me winning the Tour de France next July. Republicans at the Republican National Convention waived signs demanding "Drill Now" and the crowd chanted "Drill, baby, drill." Not exactly the kind of crowd that wants to trade SUVs for bicycles.

Weeks earlier, Obama suggested that millions of gallons of gas could be saved if motorists got regular tune-ups and kept their tires pumped to regulation pressure. McCain quickly scoffed at Obama's statement and mocked him, even though what the Democratic senator said was true. Later, McCain recanted. Regular vehicle maintenance and full tires do save gas. A lot of gas when you consider this country has more cars than people.

No, it doesn't shock me that neither presidential candidate will suggest Americans ride bicycles to solve some of our transportation problems. Saying so would amount to political suicide. Most of us, it seems, still think we can drill our way out of $4 a gallon of gas. We live at a time when practical solutions get mocked and empty slogans and pipe dreams pass for wisdom and action.

That said, we can't wait for the federal government to fire a magic bullet. More of us need to start thinking about our bicycles as a means of transportation, along with a lot of other alternatives as a way out of the seriously oily mess we find ourselves in. It's pretty clear that we the people will have to lead the change. Neither political party has the understanding or the backbone to pull this off.

If the Republican leadership scoffs at the idea of increasing motor vehicle efficiency, you can only imagine what they think about bicycles. And the Democrats won't mention bicycling for fear of being jeered by Republicans and ultimately losing votes. That leaves us on the fringe, like the protestors in the "free speech zones" blocks away from both national conventions.

When it comes to American energy policy, the bicycle is one of the unmentionables, right up there with "conservation" and "sacrifice." Since World War II, both Republicans and Democrats have thrown billions of dollars at automobile-dominated infrastructure. They have catered to the automobile industry and big oil, fashioning a society utterly dependent on fossil fuels. The current occupants of the White House are oil men, and one of the current vice presidential nominees is an oil woman.

In the 2004 presidential election, I remember watching a news piece about Kerry astride a road bike (a custom-made Serotta, if I recall correctly). Bush and his mountain bike, a Wisconsin-made Trek, has been in the news several times. (The latter has a penchant for crashing, it seems.) Both politicians ride their bicycles for recreation and not transportation. In fact, the official Bush administration policy doesn't even consider the bicycle as viable transportation.

A little over a year ago, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said on PBS that projects like bike paths and trails "are really not transportation." Apparently my neighbor up the street driving his blue Hummer H3 to work is legit, while I'm a noncommuter pedaling to work on my Surly. I have no idea if Peters believed what she said or was just regurgitating Bush administration policy. Regardless, her comment mobilized cyclists and generated an outpouring of negative responses. She should have known better. Bicycle and foot traffic account for 10 percent of our trips in this country, yet we get only 1.5 percent of the federal funding. Even if it is a pittance, at least the feds give us a bone now and again, so somebody there must think that walkers and cyclists do have a slight bit of legitimacy.

Early in Bush's first term, we could buy gas for about $1.20 a gallon. We all know the price of a gallon has more than tripled since then. One would think that our next president would start to take the bicycle and alternative energy more seriously. But the chants of "drill, baby, drill" echoing through the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, don't give me much hope and confidence.

Energy cost prognosticators suggest drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would lower oil prices in 12 to 15 years by 40 cents to a $1 per barrel - just pennies per gallon. But what's the difference between $3.80 and $3.78 per gallon?

It's no news bicyclists have been marginalized this presidential election season (as in the previous dozen or so). We have no cadre of highly paid lobbyists hobnobbing in D.C. advancing our interests. Yet this lack of access to government has prompted a political response. Some cyclists have joined committees or coalitions at local and state levels where the powers that be are more receptive to bicyclists.

Others have taken their fight to the streets. A group from Madison, for instance, rode their bikes to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, a self-titled "grass routes" caravan (see Critical Mass has long used the bicycle as a vehicle of protest, even making news during the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004. Their headquarters was raided in a pre-emptive strike by the police just before the convention started quashing the group's hopes for action in St. Paul.

Others, like me, put stickers on our bikes and ride them to work and on errands: "One Less Car,", "Bikes Not Bombs,", "No Blood For Oil,","Cars R Coffins" and "Ride a Bike - Start a Revolution."

I particularly like that last one. It has to begin at the individual level, because it's obvious that it's not going to come from the top down. The bicycle has always been, and will probably always be, a "grass routes" kind of vehicle.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

First Friday Coffee Is Tomorrow!

It's cold out there and Hawk football is on a losing streak so it must be October!
Please join us at our Parisian sidewalk café on your morning commute tomorrow between 7:30 and 9:30 and let us discuss what could be done for cycling culture in Iowa City with just that football team's travel budget! Copenhagen of the Midwest on 2!

Hut one...

photo of real French café courtesy of bicycle based humanoid

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bikeway Master Plan Workshops

Let's have a good turnout to show support for cycling in all of the communities in Johnson County!

Monday, September 22, 2008

This one's for Cody...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fix a flat 101 tonight at 7 p.m.

I will teach a quick class on how to fix a flat tonight at 7 p.m. Women and GLBTQA folks are encouraged to attend as this will be a supportive environment. If you would like to attend please email e.v.fleck at The class will be capped at 10 participants. There are currently 8 people signed up. If the class fills up tonight or you can't attend because of your schedule, don't worry, I will teach this class again as soon as possible. -Erin

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rental Bench - Sunday 2 to 4

Rental Bench will be this Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00.

What is rental bench? For $5 an hour you can use the bike library's tools, books, and equipment to tune up or repair your bike. Rental bench is free for Environmental Advocates, Bicyclists of Iowa City, or Bike Library volunteers.

One caveat: volunteers on hand may or may not help you with your wrenching, so the risk is yours!

Friday, September 05, 2008

First Friday Free Bike Commuter Coffee!!!! REPORT

The coffee was stormy this morning my friends.

The bikes were well kept and stylish.

Another fine donation. Even at the breakfast they come to us!

See you all next month, October 3rd!

Freewheelin Bicycle-Sharing

Freewheelin Bicycle-Sharing Project a Big Hit at Democratic, Republican National Conventions.

Nation’s Largest Bike-Sharing Effort Tops 7,500 Rides and 41,000 Miles in Just Eight Days!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

First Friday Free Bike Commuter Coffee!!!!

Hi devoted Bike Library weblog enthusiast! Last minute reminder that tomorrow morning from 7:30 to 9:30 am we will be having free coffee and fruit and muffins for all you bike commuters. So swing on by and join us for conversation and all of that other stuff!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why isn't UI thinking like this?

Check out what Colorado University is doing with Buff Bikes and the ancillary program Mobile Mechanics

Friday, August 22, 2008

The road to hell was paved

with good intentions. And signage, even! Happy Friday, everybody!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Washington DC bike-sharing and more

This site connect you to some info about the DC bike-sharing program and has some links to others: DC Bike Share

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Local boy does good

Jason McCartney once again shows style and grace on a bicycle in this New York Times article. Yeah, sure, he can race with best, but he can also commute with the average.

(And, to me, the average is far more exciting!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bike Commuters' Roadside Breakfast

The bike commuter breakfast is back!  Stop by this Friday, August 1, between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. for some fresh coffee, fruit, and baked goods (vegan-friendly options available).  Rain or shine--we'll be there!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Hey y'all, 
Thanks for putting up those photos I sent.  Plan-B is a great model of yet another kind of bike project, and I encourage a visit to the shop for anyone who finds themselves in the New Orleans area.  Or, of course, there's the website:  
Miss you all, keep up the good wrenching!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cargo Bike Pilot Profile - Val Kleitz

Check out this fine interview from Cargo-Bike.

Feel the power!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Zach in New Orleans

A few days ago we received a letter from our field correspondent, Zach. Last fall he hit the road on a bicycle adventure. He landed in New Orleans and decided to spend a little time there. This is a glimpse into the two-wheeled world he inhabits now...

The mighty 2x1!! As often as not these days, I just throw my messenger bag in the basket instead of over my shoulder. Them baskets are great... thank you, Wald!

Not the bike project, but Bike Plus, located at Claiborne Ave. and Banks. Yes, you can rent a tux there.

Arright! A brief tour of the bike project I've been volunteering at here most Saturdays from 2-6pm.

Yep... tires. Truing stands, spokes, handlebar & fork stash and more are back by that blue pegboard on the left.

Everything else! We've got eight bikes' worth of stands, which during the Saturday shift are often all occupied, folks working with their rides upside-down on the floor wherever they can find a space.

If ya look closely, the top of the sign says "Sorry dude,..." I love it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old BL Video

Here's a blast from the past!... fall of 2006, if I remember correctly. Thanks to Jack Brooks for creating the video.

Iowa City Bike Library

Monday, July 07, 2008

miracle on two wheels, indeed

I don't even know if I should post this because I like that this blog is mostly a place about the cool things people are able to do WITH their bicycles.  But, eh, I guess it's good to know exactly what kind of morons are out there.  In public office, no less. 

Really, sir.  Get a clue already!  19th century solution to a 21st century problem???

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama For Bicycle?

Obama Pledges Funding for Cycling

CHICAGO, IL (BRAIN)—Barack Obama, in a private 20-minute meeting with members of the Bikes Belong board of directors, told them if he were elected president he would increase funding for cycling and pedestrian projects. And the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also said he would support Safe Routes to Schools programs.

He also told them he seldom makes promises on what he would do if elected president, but that this was a promise he would keep. Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, laid out the industry’s position on boosting funding for cycling-related projects and for Safe Routes to Schools at the meeting.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) called the opportunity for industry leaders—both suppliers and retailers—to meet privately with a presidential candidate so early in a campaign for the White House was historic. “It’s important for this industry to understand that it is a force,” said Blumenauer, shortly after Obama left the event.

Stan Day, SRAM’s president, said that Obama “gets it.” He pointed out that Obama understands that bicycles can be part of a solution to issues as diverse as health care, obesity, energy and environmental policy. “He does his homework and he can connect the dots,” he said.

Of the estimated 160 guests who turned out for the event, Day estimated close to 60 represented the bicycle industry ranging from suppliers, retailers and advocates. Among the guests were Greg LeMond and his wife, Kathryn. Obama, in his remarks to the guests, thanked the LeMonds for attending.

Chris Kegel, owner of Wheel & Sprocket, a six-store chain of stores in the greater Milwaukee area, drove to Chicago early Thursday evening to attend the fundraiser at the home of F.K. Day and his wife, Leah. Day is vice-president of SRAM.

“I think it’s very important that we (the bicycle industry) were involved with this type of event,” Kegel said. Kegel added that he personally supports Obama and believes that Obama can help end the partisanship that divides the country.

Chicago retailer, JoAnne McSweeny, owner of Trek Bicycles on Michigan Avenue, said she has followed Obama’s career for years and supports Obama’s run for president. She, like many others, said Obama’s support for cycling is important for the nation’s future.

During a conversational 15-minute speech, Obama poked fun at himself telling the crowd that when he was photographed last weekend riding a bike with his children, he looked like Urkel. For those unfamiliar with Steve Urkel, he was the nerdy, bespectacled semi-hero on the long running sitcom “Family Matters.” The show was centered on an African-American middle class family living in Chicago.

Obama said he had no idea at the time he was riding with his children that he would soon meet with so many members from the industry. However, he pointed out, he knew photographers would be snapping photos of him on his bike, and that he wore his helmet to set an example for the kids.

Tom Petrie, president of Velimpex, who flew to Chicago Thursday afternoon, said he didn’t expect to hear Obama lay out a specific agenda for the bicycle industry. “However, it was refreshing to see somebody trying to unite the country instead of trying to divide it with wedge issues. I find it refreshing and, frankly, necessary,” Petrie said

For a complete report on the event, read the July 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
—Marc Sani

Friday, May 30, 2008

We're Number One?

Friday, May 23, 2008

All In A Day's Volunteering

Today I went down to the Bike Library to take our overflowing trash away and our recycling, too. Upon arrival I noticed a mess which is not unusual but something about the cassette tapes on the floor and the bar plug tub upended did not seem like the usual disarray and sure enough, a quick scan of the area revealed a new volunteer hard at work!

Small, hardworking, clever and a mammal, too! The prototypical Bike Library volunteer of the future?

His work appeared to be done so I thanked him for helping and then chased him out the door with a broom. Never a dull moment!

It was raining so I first outfitted our trusty Bridgestone work bike with some Planet Bike fenders. Then I loaded up the trash can with the cardboard, paper and plastic. A quick scribble on the back to let people know who was doing what and I was off.
I had two people ask about the trailer while I was out and I told them they should get one and where to do so. Hooray for Bikes at Work trailers!

After unloading all the cargo I swung by home to pick up a couple of donation bikes that our neighbors had. They loaded nicely and I rolled back down to the library to drop them off. One is not in such great shape but the other is a nice little Centurion mixte that should make a fine ride for someone.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Attention all bicycle commuters!  Join us in front of the BL tomorrow (May 2nd) morning between 7:30 and 9:30 for some breakfast & coffee & conversation.  No need to RSVP—just roll on up on your own two wheels!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bike to Work Week is Coming... Join the Fun!!

MAY 12-16, 2008 is Bike to Work Week in Iowa City & Coralville!

Come join the fun, food and festivities. Celebrate a simple and graceful form of transportation that can make you thinner, fitter and wealthier. So join us and together we'll tell the oil companies.... we don't need no stinkin' gasoline!

Monday, May 12

Bike Commuter Breakfast, 7 to 9am

College Green Park

Bike/Car/Bus Race

12:30pm Depart Coralville City offices

Conclude at Iowa City City Hall/Chauncey Swan Park

Bike Rodeo

6pm Sugar Bottom Bikes, North Liberty

Tuesday, May 13

Bike Commuter Breakfast, 7 to 9am

On Melrose, in front of Kinnick Stadium (Krause Family Plaza)

Wednesday, May 14

Commuter Doughnuts and Coffee, 6:30-7:30am

Sugar Bottom Bikes, North Liberty

Bike Friendly Cities Forum, Noon-1pm

Iowa City Public Library, Meeting Room A

A lunchtime discussion on how to make Iowa City more bike friendly. Sponsored by the Bicyclist of Iowa City.

Mayor’s Ride from Old Pi to New Pi

Riders meet at Chauncey Swan Park in Iowa City beginning at 5:00pm. The ride will depart for Coralville’s New Pioneer Coop at 5:45PM.

Reception at the end of the ride hosted by New Pioneer Food Co-op with prizes and refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Interesting or dressed-up bikes encouraged. First 150 riders receive a free bike light courtesy of World of Bikes in Iowa City

Friday, May 16

Bike to Work Week Celebration, 6-9pm

(Location to be announced)

Join fellow biking/walking enthusiasts for an end-of-the-week party. There will be food, drink and live music—as well as lively conversation and drawings for prizes, including a grand prize.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bike Library in the news

Iowa Independent did a story on the bike library.

Check out Jen doing the bike library thing:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rental Bench cancelled...

on April 26th for the commuter class. Otherwise, we will continue our regular 2-4 hours every Saturday.

Preliminary Bike to Work Week Class

In preparation for upcoming Bike to Work Week, the Iowa City Bike Library will offer a beginning bicycle commuter class specifically geared towards women yet open to the public on Saturday, April 26 at 2:00. This hour-and-a-half class will focus on the very basics of bike commuting including how to get started. The goal is to demystify bicycles and help remove barriers to cycling. The class is free and limited to 15.

Email iowacitybikelibrary (at) gmail (dot) com or stop by the Bike Library to reserve a spot.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pedal Car in Hell's Kitchen

Thanks to Bike Hacks for the image.

See? Not all cars are bad. Check out the video at Michel de Broin's website.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Rights and Duties of Cyclists

This and other cycling videos are at Cyclist View.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rental Bench has moved...

to Saturdays, 2-4. These hours, of course, are subject to change, so check back here before stopping in to avoid disappointment.

Rental Bench opens use of Bike Library tools and equipment to the public for $5 per hour or free for Environmental Advocates, Bicyclists of Iowa City, or Bike Library volunteers.

One caveat: volunteers on hand may or may not help you with your wrenching, so the risk is yours!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Well, maybe we won't have Wheaties, but it is time for our monthly Breakfast for Champions of Bike Commuting!  Come on down to the BL between 7:30 and 9:30 on Friday, April 4th.  We'll have coffee, fruit, and assorted baked treats.  If we're not out on the College St. sidewalk, look for us indoors.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rental Bench Reopens

Starting Sunday, March 30th the Bike Library's rental bench will be open from 2 until 4. This two-hour window opens up tools and equipment to the public for $5 per hour.

This is also an opportunity for BL volunteers, Environmental Advocates members, and BIC members to get their own projects in the stand for no charge.

For now the rental bench will be on Sundays, but it may move to Saturdays soon. Of course, we'll update here when that happens.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Springtime Bike Paths

The massive, melting snows help raise the Iowa River, sometimes over the River Trail. The trail is pretty impassable under the Hwy 6 bridge. Sometimes you can climb up the retaining wall on the left, but yesterday I didn't even attempt it as the wall disappeared under the water. The trail was uninterrupted by water all the way to City Park.

Melting snows really have nothing to do with this astounding project of humankind, damming up the Iowa River in order to move water from one side of campus to the other. What was thought to be a short-term project is now becoming a vanishing point for the lines on our horizon.

Turn here? This is the ped/cyclist detour option to join the sidewalk along Riverside Dr., or you can go back to the intersection and get on the sidewalk there.

The corridor trail that cuts behind part of the strip in Coralville was partially covered, but as you can see by my tracks, it is passable. I dunked my pedals several times getting across, but my drive train came out mostly dry.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cedar Rapids bikes being reused around the world

The Cedar Rapids Gazette features a story about Chicago's Working Bikes Cooperative picking up a 28-foot-truckload of bikes from the Cedar Rapids landfill.  WBC, a non-profit volunteer organization, will ship the bikes to countries such as Angola, Ecuador, Cuba, and Guatemala.  There, the bikes will be repaired—apparently it's more economical that the bikes are refurbished once they've reached their destination—and used for personal transportation or medical deliveries. 

According to Darrin Gage, Cedar Rapids' solid waste agency planner, the Cedar Rapids landfill has attempted to keep bikes separated from the landfill since January of 2007.  "When it goes to the scrap metal pile, it's recycled, but this is reuse, which is even better," he said. "If you can reuse something, a new product doesn't have to be made."

And that, of course, reflects part of the mission of the Bike Library to a tee— to keep bikes from going to the landfills and put them back to use.  It's great to see some of the different ways that people are working to keep unused bikes out of the landfills.

You can read the full Gazette article and watch a brief video here.  (And, of course, the Bike Library is always accepting donations of bikes to be fixed up and ridden locally.)

(photo credit: Cedar Rapids Gazette/Courtney Sargent)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great PSA Video

Spring is a-comin'

The stands were full on Saturday while James, Jeremy, Scott and Kimberly were fixing up more BL bikes for check-out.  We currently have a wide selection of bikes—lots of 3-speeds, some mountain bikes, several great road-style townie bikes, and even a few kids' bikes ready for check-out.  

Thursday, March 06, 2008

March 7th Commuter Breakfast

I know it's cold and icy and it does NOT feel like March out there, but nevertheless, it's time for coffee & breakfast at the Bike Library on Friday morning.  We'll be there from 7:30 - 9:30 with hot coffee & some breakfasty items.  Ride on down (or walk or take the bus) to the Bike Library and join us! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Report from Minneapolis

Verna, Steve & I went to Minneapolis last weekend to take in the Quality show, Frostbike. We had a great time, got lots o' shwag, and made some contacts that may benefit the BL in the future.

After we left the fabulous new LEED certified building where QBP lives, we made a quick stop at Hiawatha Cyclery in south Minneapolis.

Hiawatha is a small shop that specializes in cyclo-touring and tasteful transportation. They've got a lot of style, the kind that comes from earnest reading of the Rivendell Reader. While I'm not the type to think the RR is a guide to life and the universe, I do agree with the well-deserved attention being given to sensible, everyday bicycles and gear.

There was a fine arrangement of built bikes on the floor. From a freshly built Salsa Casseroll with a thousand-something price tag to a simple, 3-spd Breezer Freedom commuter for the smaller budget, $450. Handlebars, fenders, rims, stems, pedals, racks, baskets, and all those things we get excited about were well organized in the available space in plain view.

In the front window were some built-up classics, like this one:

1963 Freddie Grubb; Black in color; 56 cm C-T; Sturmey Archer 4 speed FW hub; Nitto stem and Northroad bars; B5N Brooks leather saddle; Perfect for the Lake Pepin 3 Speed Tour; Complete bike; $600

Hanging proudly over our heads was a beautiful Jack Taylor with a custom pink paint job executed by one or another of those wacky Taylor Bros once upon a time and, of course, a lovely Stronglight crank.

The owner, Jim, was riding this ANT with porteur rack:

And, his singular employee (or co-owner?), Kevin, was riding this well modified Stumpjumper:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Get a FREE bike if you don’t bring a car to college!

Ripon College, a small liberal arts college in the middle of a central Wisconsin cornfield, is giving a Trek 820 mountain bike (plus helmet and lock) to every student who pledges not to bring a car to campus for the 2008-2009 year. link

Pretty sweet. I'd actually prefer to have some store credit at a local bike shop, but hey a "free" bike. How cool would it be if the University of Iowa started a free bike program?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Iowa Lawmakers Consider Bike Rider's License

So, it looks like Iowa is considering a bike riders license:

"A bill introduced Monday to the Iowa Legislature would require all bicyclists, adults and children, who ride on primary or secondary roads to have a bicyclist's license.

Under the proposed bill, the license would cost $10 and would be good for five years."

link to story

link to the bill

I'm pretty sure this license thing is partly in response to the Crawford county mess. $10 isn't that bad compared to what you have to pay for a car registration. I would probably pay it as long as I know that it truly goes to improve cycling. I just don't know if the true purpose is to improve cycling or discourage people from riding on county roads. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008



WHEN: Friday, January 11th at 7:00 pm.

WHERE: At the Sanctuary.  (We might migrate to Sam's Pizza?)

WHY: Come raise a glass to celebrate the BL's great success in 2007 and to gear up for 2008!  Viva la BL!

From a summer long ago...

I'm not sure what this has to do with the BL, but... I found some long-lost pics from my summer cycling tour of Europe (1987) and thought I'd share one. The pic was taken late in the afternoon and I was just outside of a village on the Italian coast - somewhere between La Spezia and Genova. There was no road for cars into the village, only a train. I was riding along a path overlooking the shore. A few minutes after this picture was taken, I rode into the village. The approach was downhill through an archway that led to a stone courtyard next to the church. The local kids were in the middle of a soccer game in the courtyard when I came through the archway. I ended up in the middle of their match. I remember a seething assemblage of screaming ten year-olds shaking their little fists at me. While at the market, I met a German fellow who was vacationing and sampling the acclaimed local white wine grown on terraced vineyards along the coast. We made dinner, drank wine and camped on a scenic vista along the cliffs. The ride out the next day was over some pretty rough terrain. Anyway, it was a great summer adventure from long ago.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wear your helmet

Just a quick public service announcement: Wear a helmet when cycling.

The city of Austin, TX recently completed a year long bicycle helmet study. "According to the data so far you're about 65 to 88-percent less likely to get a head injury if you're wearing a helmet while you're riding a bicycle."