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January 25, 2005

MBPA 2005 Annual Meeting

Today was an interesting day. I got to work and all the places to lock up my bike were covered in snow and maintenance at our building wasnít considering bike commuters when they cleared the snow away. They shoved it up against the railings and covered the entrance to my bike locker. Then I rode my bike into the ramp by our building and asked the attendant if I could use their bike rack in the ramp and that was fine with them so I parked it there for the day. Then to my surprise, another bike commuter emailed me and told me that he was tired of waiting for maintenance so he brought his own shovel and salt and cleared away the snow and ice in front of our bike lockers. So tomorrow morning I get to wheel my bike inside of the locker and close the door. If you havenít heard about these bike lockers, they are provided for a small fee at various locations throughout the twin cities by Metro Transit Commuter Services. I think you can find a contact for them on the http://www.metrotransit.org site.
Then after work I rode my bike home. Well, I tried to ride it home. Remember I was having mechanical problems with my bike? I didnít ride yesterday because of the problems. I tried to fix it and it made it to work ok this morning, but still not shifting properly. But on the way home, I was stuck in the lowest gear and it was skipping. Evidently this happens when the gears are worn out and the chain is new. The only recourse is to buy new gears. But that wasnít my only problem. I had salt in the derailers and the brakes so those werenít working quite right. I need to clean and lubricate them better. Then the rear derailer cable came loose and thatís how I got stuck in the lowest gear going home, which is the gear that was skipping the worst. So when I put pressure on the pedals, the chain skipped and my feet would jerk downward without propelling the bike forward. It was a pain to get home, but I limped it home slowly, trying not to exert too much pressure on the pedals, which means I walked up the steepest hill.
But overall, it was still a pleasant walk/ride home because it was still light out. Did you notice how much ligher it is now at 5pm?!! Because Iím riding a bike, I really noticed and itís great! Also, it was warm today, so it was pleasant. I donít let things like this bother me. Even though I bought this bike used and it had a lot of problems, itís still a good frame, and Iím replacing all the mechanical parts that matter so itís a great bike that will be like a brand new bike when Iím done. It will still cost me less than the same bike new. I think it was a bike that normally sold for about 500 dollars new. So Iím not complaining. Also, I bought this bike from the Sibley bike depot and the money they get for these bikes helps support their bike education and advocacy activities. So to me I canít complain about where the money went for the bike either. I enjoy giving to people and organizations that need it.
Given the mechanical problems of this bike today, I wasnít about to ride it downtown again tonight for the meeting I intended on going to. Instead I loaded it into my car and drove there. This got me thinking. If I give up my car totally, how would I get my bike to a repair shop if it broke down? I think the answer is in having two bikes, one with a bike trailer that can haul things. My friend Danís brother is a house painter who uses only a bicycle. He has a trailer that he pulls behind his bike with ladder, paint and other equipment he needs. When heís working on a project he leaves the trailer at the site and commutes home on his bike without it. Then when the job is done, he loads everything back on the trailer and rides home with it. In my opinion, that is someone who takes bike commuting seriously. I think that if I intend to give up my car totally, I will need to get a bike trailer to haul stuff. Maybe I will try to design one myself and make it from spare bike parts and wheels. That would be an interesting project.
Anyway, I got to the meeting and left my bike in the car until I found out if someone there was willing to help me. The meeting was the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (MNBPA) http://www.bikeped.org At the meeting they elected officers for 2005, then ate food and talked about bikes. It was really interesting listening to them all and talking with them. I didnít volunteer to serve on the board, although they were looking for more members. I mainly went because I wanted to find out more about their organization and maybe find ways to help them. I think this is a good organization to have in the Twin Cities to make them more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Iíve been all over the cities this past year and have a lot of complaints about the conditions for bike riders and walkers. In many places there is a lack of adequate places to lock up bikes. In other places there is no shoulder or sidewalk to ride the bike on and the traffic is too busy and fast to ride out in the traffic. Itís sometimes downright scary riding a bike. If we want to get more people out on their bikes even in the warmer weather, we need advocates pushing for a more bike and pedestrian friendly city. So I support their activities. And it seems like they are doing a lot.
At the meeting I met a bicycle messenger. There is a company in St. Paul that has some cars and three bicycllists delivering mostly legal documents. I was fascinated by this idea and asked a lot of questions. It was fun for both of us. I was told that coming up soon is a local bike delivery competition, which I wonít be able to see, because Iíll be running that day. there is also a World Championship competition for bike messengers over the fourth of July weekend in Chicago. This driver is hoping to go compete there this year if finances permit.
Then also during the meeting there was talk about the new pedi-cab service in St. Paul, coming soon. This was really interesting. I think I would like to try that out. I put my name in to drive one. Iím sure Iíll post more on this later as I find out more details.
After the meeting I surveyed the Sibley Bike Depot shop. Most of the talk was about the damage done to the building from the construction next door, but when they ran the course of that discussion one of the guys was kind enough to help me with my bike problems. Most of them are now resolved. However, he is going to order me two new sprockets for the back wheel so my chain will stop skipping. And he showed me where I need to lubricate my shifting levers and what I needed to do to fix my brake problem. That was very nice of him.
I have a very positive feeling about this organization and what they are doing so I am going to find some more ways I can help them throughout the next few years. As part of their program, they have classes on bike repair. I think thatís a great thing to know if you are into any kind of biking or commuting. Just like cars it helps to know the vehicle you are driving and how to do at least the basics. They have a repair shop you can use with all the tools and expert (volunteer) staff to help.
Please, check them out. This is my first endorsement of a group that I think is making a difference. To me there are huge benefits to human powered movement, environmentally, economically, emotionally and physically.
And since itís almost midnight, I have to finish my laundry and get to bed. :-) It was a good day.

Posted by carl1236 at January 25, 2005 11:56 PM | Winter-Biking