- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Brompton- new bike

I've had my Brompton now for about four months. I can safely say it is a fantastic bike. Unlike other folding bikes it is a joy to fold and unfold, and the folding sections feel rock solid when riding. You do not notice you are riding a folding bike. I've had two Dahon's and while they were both nice, and competitively priced, I rarely folded them. The Brompton I fold and keep under my desk. It is also fantastic for taking my five yr old son places. He simply stands on the back rack and hugs me as we trundle along the sidewalk slowly. Fortunately, I don't have a big waist line, so he can peer around and see where we are going. It's a lot of fun.
Alone, it can hold its own on the street, and with the beautiful SON hub dynamo, and B&M lights front and back, it's a joy to ride at night without having to worry about batteries or even thinking about switching the lights on, as they come on automatically when you ride at night.

The bike attracts a great deal of attention, and I try to make a point of talking about it to anyone who asks. These Bromptons really are top of the folding heap. Even my bike racing friends are surprised at how smoothly this bike rides.

A few points:
1. Its three gears are very well spaced and I have never felt the need for the six gear model.
2. I reccomend the model with a rack, for three reasons. (1) you can attach a rear light (in fact it comes with one); (2) it has wheels that make rolling the bike easier (which make it as easy to push around as a small suitcase trunk); (3) you can carry stuff...(including another Brompton bike, they are that small...)
3. For those of you who care, I have found it difficult to pull a trailer. My Burley trailer attachment did not work, because of the way the chainstays on the Brompton are bent. The alternative hitch does not work either. I did devise my own attachment, but trailers work better on hardtail bikes anyhow, so I've stopped using the trailer with the Brompton (which has polymer suspension).

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Here is another beauty of a Dad and his kids (not me). What a way to travel !
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This is the wonderful Xtracycle FreeRadical. I had seen mention of it before in Velovision etc., but when I realised that it actually takes a whopping 90kg, and that's when the penny dropped - this thing could really be useful. Here is a picture from their website. Mine is coming soon. Will post details when I get it all together, but it does look like a lot of good thought has gone into this product. Posted by Picasa

Izu riding

Two hours out of Tokyo and you are in another world. Mossy cliffs, mountain jungle, wild oceans, wild and wonderful people, and of course, a spectacular narrow road winding through it all, looking like any day now the jungle might just gobble up the road and reclaim the mountainside. It's magical. Posted by Picasa


For the last six months or a year, I've been a member of a mailing list of a Sydney bicycle advocacy group called BikeEast. These guys are really great. They work with local and state governments on specific projects, go on rides together, organise community events, seemingly tireless in the effort for better communties.

That's why I am particularly disgusted when I see news of the new NSW state premier planning to reverse the Sydney tunnel plans. As I understand it, the tunnel (a disgusting pork barrel project to start with) won popular support because the plan included promises to block surface roads to traffic, thereby reducing motor traffic among local communities. Well they proposed that sweetener, got the tunnel, built it, and blocked off surface traffic as promised, much to the chagrin of motorists (who in Sydney are chagrined when they can't drive to the toilet). Now, sure enough, the new Premier has taken it on himself to open up these roads again, and free the downtrodden driving masses. I'm getting cynical again, but honestly, it really tries my faith in democracy when this kind of thing happens. I just really hope the people there wake up to reality before they really do need a car to go to the toilet.

This kind of broken promise could only be done by the government. In business, it would be called fraud and the company would be hauled over coals, directors indicted and had rocks thrown at them.