To increase bicycling, provide shower

From Plugged In, a Scientific American blog:

A shower. Of course a shower. We talk endlessly (and rightly) about bike lanes and sharrows and complete streets and the disastrous economics of free parking schemes, yet the study* showed this simple amenity — one every business in the entire western world could provide for less than $5000 — massively improves your likelihood to ride to work and accrue all the other health and environmental and psychological and business and community benefits therefrom.

A shower.

Evening Grosbeak - Coccothraustes vespertinusOf course, if you cycle to work regularly, you know this to be true already. Even with my measly 3-mile commute, I would greatly appreciate a proper shower before facing colleagues and students. (Instead, I’m relegated to the “bird bath” technique of cleaning up with baby wipes. I also bring a change of clothes whenever I think I’ll need it. And, to cover all my bases, I even keep a set of clothes in my desk drawer for those times when, oops!, I underestimate how hot or humid it is in the morning… or get caught in a freak rain shower.) I’m also lucky enough to not have to cross a bridge on my commute or climb any killer hills. I can’t imagine what it’s like for those with longer commutes.

So, sure, secure parking and a shower facility would greatly benefit those who already ride to work… but it would have an even greater effect on non-riders (or hesitant riders) by encouraging them to commute to work by bike by giving them peace of mind. That’s really the greatest takeaway from Buehler’s study.

Do any of the CUNY campuses provide showers for their employees? (How do you clean up after a ride?) If your campus has a gym, are you a member and do you use it to shower after your ride in?

Buehler, B. (2012). Determinants of bicycle commuting in the Washington, DC region: The role of bicycle parking, cyclist showers, and free car parking at work. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 17(7), 525–531. Available at


Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Riding in new bike lane on Prospect Park WestNow that the temperature is in the 90s, it’s getting harder to bike comfortably. At least for me, it is. If you’ve been commuting daily, the heat shouldn’t take you by surprise: we had a mild winter and a very short spring that quickly turned to summer. However, if you’ve just started commuting, it can be pretty daunting, especially in our muggy NYC heat. Either way, the following is a list of tips for cycling in the hot, sticky heat:

  • Take it easy. Commuting is not a race so ride at a leisurely pace, especially in the hot summer months. This may mean leaving earlier to arrive at your destination on time–give yourself an extra 15 minutes or so to start, then adjust accordingly.
  • Protect your skin and eyes. If wearing short sleeves/pants, choose a safe, low-hazard sunscreen and apply to all exposed skin (i.e., face, neck, arms, hands, legs, etc.), even if the weather forecast predicts clouds. Also make sure to wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose appropriate clothing. Light colored clothing will reflect heat so choose white shirts over black ones. Ideally, you should also not wear cotton (as it absorbs and retains moisture instead of wicking it away) and instead opt for “technical” fabrics instead, like spandex and lycra. If you’re uncomfortable in these clothes or just don’t want to look like you’re in the Tour de France, simply bring a change of clothing with you.
  • Stay hydrated. If you have a long ride, it’s important that you bring plenty of water on your commute. If you don’t have a bottle cage (or two) installed on your frame, you can throw a bottle into your bag/basket and pull it out when you’re at a red light or taking a breather under the protective shade of a tree.
  • Keep your bike in shape. Make sure to pump your tires every few days to the maximum recommended PSI. Make sure your bike is in good condition: chain is clean and greased, gears are adjusted, etc. You don’t want to work any harder than you have to in the heat so it’s a good idea to have your bike checked out.

How do you ride in 90°F+ weather? What’s your strategy for arriving at your destination not totally exhausted and drenched in sweat?

Future Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Bike Tour

Hi CUNY Bike People!

This event looks like fun, especially if it’s nice this weekend. It’s a 10 mile ride, click on the website for more details. Be sure to RSVP by 5PM Friday May 26!  Unfortunately I won’t be able to go because I have friends visiting who do not like to bike.

Here is the link:

•    DATE: May 26, 2012
•    TIME: 10:00am – 1:00pm
•    PRICE: Free
•    VENUE: Greenpoint
•    ADDRESS: northernmost end of Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, on the shores of Newtown Creek.


PS I found another unrelated event that also takes place this Saturday.  It also looks fun:

“IT’S A BLOCK PARTY FOR YOUR BICYCLE! The 8th Annual Bicycle Fetish Day takes place on Havemeyer Street between Hope and Grand. Biking activities, bike competitions, bike rides, bicycle advocacy groups and artists selling their wares. With a BBQ grill and more, you couldn’t miss this yearly celebration of all things bicycle.” Here is the link, the event starts at 12PM:


Bringing bikeCUNY to City Tech

May means two things to me: National Bike Month and final exams. This year, National Bike to Work Week fell on the same week that finals began at CUNY. I took this opportunity to set up a bike/bikeCUNY table on my campus (City Tech) during club hours: Thursday, May 17, between 12:45 and 2:15 PM.

I couldn’t man the table (I was teaching a class from 1 to 2:30 PM) so I just put up a “Take one (of each)!” sign and let the masses have at it. The photo you see here was taken about 30 minutes after I initially brought the table outside the library doors. As you can see, it looked pretty empty even then! (There was a heap of buttons in front of the “take one” sign. In the photo, only two are visible. Everyone loves a button!)

This is what I had available for students to take away:

All that was left when I brought the table in at 5 PM was one lonely map. So while I’m sorry I couldn’t be present to give the things away and spread the bike love, I’m very glad that students were interested and felt free to grab up the bike-related goodies.

I was hoping I’d have some buttons left for tonight’s event but no such luck. If I have time, I’ll press more buttons this afternoon to give away to those who attend the Social Hour!


NYC gets a bike share!

This has been a big week for NYC cycling!

Photo of a docked Citi Bike from The New York Times

Michael Appleton for The New York Times

On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Citibank will be sponsoring the city’s bike share program (thereby dubbing the program Citi Bike). The plan is to roll out 10,000 bikes at over 600 docking stations throughout the city by Spring 2013. In Summer 2012, though, the city is only promising operation at partial capacity (as it’s impractical to airdrop 10,000 bikes on the city). At the announcement, Mayor Bloomberg also unveiled the bikes, the docking stations, and the kiosks. Furthermore, bike share demos are being staged throughout May to give folks an opportunity to see the bikes, learn about the system, and ask questions.

By Wednesday, the media were abuzz with the news that a four-hour ride would cost a rider $77. And while this is true, it is against the spirit of a bike share system: it’s meant for short trips (≤5mi) and not all-day outings. Expressed in SAT lingo: Citi Bike:ZipCar::Bike & Roll:Enterprise. Just as you get a ZipCar to drive to IKEA but you rent a car to head down the coast for the weekend, you would get a Citi Bike to go over the Manhattan Bridge to get to Chinatown but you would rent a bike to take a leisurely ride around Manhattan to take in all the sights and have a picnic lunch in Central Park.

On Friday, the city revealed the proposed station map. Other neighborhoods (UES, UWS, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, and Sunnyside) will be mapped out later, when bikes are ready to be deployed in those areas. But aside from the lack of stations above 59th Street and below Atlantic Avenue, cyclists noticed one other thing:

Just goes to show you that the bike share is not being forced on anyone: “New Yorkers picked these sites, submitting their ideas in the tens of thousands on the online suggestion map, in community workshops held throughout the service area, in community board feedback sessions and in hundreds of meetings that neighborhood and other organizations held directly with NYC DOT.”

I’m very curious to see how this pans out. Will CUNY folks be more willing to ride a bike to class/work for a $95/year membership (or $60/year for low-income New Yorkers)? There is one station to be placed directly in front of the City Tech entrances. BMCC will be getting a station installed in a public plaza across the street. It looks like there will be two stations right outside Baruch. There’s a proposed station to go in one block from the Grad Center. One block away from the J-School, the city wants to install a station with 59 docks… How will this affect the bike riding habits of CUNY students, staff, and faculty?


First ever bikeCUNY meet-up!

Come join fellow CUNY cyclists at Red Lantern Bikes (345 Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn) for a social hour on Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 18) at 7 PM. Grab a coffee or a beer and chat with others in CUNY who commute to class/work by bike.

Those who do not currently bike to campus but would like to start are also welcome! Come get more information, swap tips, and compare notes. No agenda, just a good time! (If you’re on Facebook, you can RSVP to the event.)

Flyer for bikeCUNY Social Hour on Friday, May 18, 2012

Download the flyer (designed by the extremely talented Sara Greene!) and pass it around your campus! (If you’re posting it up inside buildings, please get permission first.)


Every bike has a story

Over at the Bike League blog, a fellow CUNYite talks about cycling in NYC and her relationship with bikes:

I have learned that every bike has a story. I learn from their dents and the shapes they come in and the tales that their owners tell. Every bicycle has a lot to say. Everyday, these old bicycles teach me something new, as long as I am willing to listen.

Lisa Rodriguez is a student at John Jay and a mechanic, instructor, and ride leader at Recycle-A-Bicycle.

For the whole story, check out


In case of emergency

Just in time for National Bike Month, the bicycle advocacy law firm Flanzig & Flanzig* has released a free(!) mobile app, Bike Crash Kit, available on both iOS and Android platforms.

Screenshot of Bike Crash Kit app (on Android)Its features include:

  1. utilities such as camera, voice recorder, text notepad and drawing pad to properly document vehicle and bike positions, street defects, or other causes of the crash;
  2. automatic GPS location with the touch of a button to record your current location information, such street names, city, state, and country;
  3. easy mailing to send collected information to the Flanzig & Flanzig firm through a single email report;
  4. emergency button to call 911, selected contact person, or the Flanzig & Flanzig office;
  5. locate a hospital;
  6. locate a bike shop;
  7. locate a taxi or car service;
  8. FAQ that contains important information for cyclists to know both before and after a car crash; and
  9. “About Our Firm” to briefly introduce cyclists to the Flanzig & Flanzig firm with location details and a link to their website.

While the hope is that you’ll never be in a crash, the reality is that you need to be prepared for the worst. This app will help you record all the information you need to make sure you gather all the necessary and critical data after a crash.

For a more in-depth overview, check out the announcement on Ride the City.

* ETA (1:12 PM): Just got an email from one half of the law firm, Daniel Flanzig, to tell me that he is a product of CUNY! He got his law degree at the CUNY School of Law. Go, CUNY!


Welcome! (And a call for participants…)

With the creation of a shiny new logo (thanks to the very generous folks over at Makewell!), I think I’m ready to start this blog.*  I envision this space being the home to news, information about events, rants about the state of cycling in NYC/CUNY, tips for riding safely in NYC, and efforts of advocating for cyclists’ rights in CUNY.  Anything bike- and CUNY-related, really.

One idea I have is to profile cyclists at various campuses.  It would be in the style of the Why I Ride series (from Streetsblog and photographer Dmitry Gudkov) but local to CUNY.  I want to show that people who choose to commute to their classes/jobs at CUNY are not criminals or deviants—they are everyday folks who ride because of convenience, health benefits, and many other reasons.  This would also be my way of finding out what CUNY employees and students would like to see on their campuses that would make their commutes better and/or encourage others to take their bikes to class/work:

I would be enlisting the help of a photographer who will take the photo(s) that will along with the interview.  Since we’re both located in Brooklyn, I’d like to start there.   If you work/study at Brooklyn College, City Tech, Medgar Evers, or Kingsborough and would be interested in participating, leave a comment here, reply to @bikecuny, or email with your days of availability!  (Weekends are best.)  We’ll work out the details and go from there.

This sounds silly but I will interview myself first (so everyone can get a sense of how this will work).  Expect that post to be up in a few weeks—maybe even next weekend, depending on the weather.

Until then, ride safely!  And do let me know if you have any ideas for this blog.

*Posting is open to all bikeCUNY group members so everyone is free to contribute.  Comments are open to the public so anyone not on the Commons or in the group can still have a chance to contribute to the discussion.