September 12, 2009

Irish Times report

This is straight out of my thesis report..I'm sure!
HG WELLS would have approved. “Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia,” he wrote. “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” The launch this weekend of Dublin’s bicycle hire scheme and the announcement of the plan to spend €10 million on a new cycle route linking Rathmines to Fairview Park are causes for celebration, indeed, genuine marks of civilisation.
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride,” John F Kennedy claimed. And, in truth, the joys of gently freewheeling along the bank of the Grand Canal on an Indian summer’s evening, or of leaning into the pedals and the breeze as one crests a Wicklow hill, are hard to beat. There is no better way to get to know the contours of a place, nor greener, healthier mode of transport, than the descendant of German civil servant Baron Karl von Drais’s 1817 invention, the Laufmaschine also known as the “draisine” (largely unchanged with the exception of pedals, added first in 1863).
Sceptics – pedestrian pedants and pot-half-empty merchants all – warn of technical problems with the hire system, of maintenance challenges, of likely theft and vandalism, and moan about the dangers of cycling on Dublin’s streets and the bullying road hogs in SUVs and buses, the pollution . . . It is ever so with visionary advance. Yes, the Paris velib system has had problems, but 42 million rides have been enjoyed and the city has taken them to its heart. Dublin will too.
In Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman , the philosopher de Selby introduced us to “Atomic Theory” – the study of the exchange of atoms between bodies that are in close contact – and his particular views on men and their bicycles. As Sgt Pluck recorded: “The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them, and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles”. Due to the nature of his job the local postman, he reported, was 71 per cent bicycle. This also meant that his bicycle was 71 per cent human.
Hopefully, many Dubliners will also become more like their bikes, finding a new, calmer balance in their lives and personalities. There is, unlike a car, nothing aggressive about a bicycle – on the contrary, its very spirit or essence is the antithesis of road rage. Roll on Dublin.
Via Irish Times

September 9, 2009

DIY Electric Bike

Most electric bikes use batteries with chemistries that have been tweaked for portable electronics (laptops, cellphones, etc). But what if you want something a bit more heavy-duty? Something built for power and durability... How about advanced nano-phosphate power tool batteries from DeWalt? That's exactly what Russ Finley did. Read on for more info and a video.

Homemade E-Bike
His DIY electric bike is based on a $170 mountain bike. As Russ points out in his piece on Grist, his e-bike is very similar to the one that was featured in the New York Times, except that his e-bike cost $1,600 and the NYT one costs $7,000, and his bike probably outperforms the more expensive one...

He writes:

  1. I chose a full-suspension mountain bike frame because the roads and even the bike trails here are so bad. I wanted to isolate the batteries, controller and my butt from the shocks. I also jump off curbs a lot.
  2. I wired pairs of 36-volt Dewalt power tool batteries in series to get 72 volts and then wired each of these pairs in parallel. I can carry two, four, or six battery packs, depending on how long the trip will be.
  3. I replaced my 36-volt, ten-amp controller with a 72-volt, 35-amp version. It also has immediate start, which means the controller does not wait until the wheel is rolling before it puts power to the motor. This lets me get through intersections faster and safer (although I have to be careful or my front wheel lifts off the ground).
  4. I used a rear wheel motor because front wheels here tend to get bent by potholes and fixing one can be expensive if you have a motor mounted in it.

Via TreeHugger

Get on yer bike Dublin!

Call to ‘get on yer bike’ as rent-a-cycle scheme set to launch on sceptical city

Dubliners gave a bemused welcome to the new bike stations which went on display in the city centre yesterday.

A true Dub quipped: "One of those bikes would look well under my mother’s bed," while another predicted the new service is likely to be very popular, particularly with tourists and many workers in the capital. It is hoped vandalism will not be a major problem, and those who fail to return the bikes will have pay a €150 penalty on their credit card. According to the publicity blurb, for €10 you can enjoy all the benefits of Dublinbikes with the swipe of a card at one of the stations. For occasional use, or for visitors, a three-day ticket costs just €2.

The scheme is expected to appeal particularly to those interested in a healthier lifestyle and those determined to rid themselves of that ubiquitous paunch. The scheme is similar to those running in Paris, Lyon, Vienna, Seville, Berlin and Copenhagen. The network of 40 stations extends from the Mater Hospital in the north of the city to Grand Canal Street in the south, and from Smithfield in the west to the IFSC and north docklands in the east.

Dublin City Council, in conjunction with outdoor advertising company JC Decaux, are behind the move. Stations will have nine bikes on average, and busier locations such as train and bus stations will have extra capacity.

At each terminal, there will be a machine to allow the user to "rent" the bike. The user will be able to return a bike at another station close to their destination. The bikes, which are supplied by JC Dexaux, are well built, with three gears, un-deflatable tyres and are said to be damage-resistant.

Irish Examiner

September 6, 2009

Einstein on cycling...

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