Friday, November 9, 2012

Waterloo Route Shakeup!

Edit 2013/02/23: GRT has released a "preferred option" proposal. You can read about it here.

Edit 2012/11/10: GRT has now released its official options and I have revised this article to use the new images and corrected for details that have changed since the council submission.

Big changes coming to GRT, mainly within the city of Waterloo. The establishment of the 202 "University Avenue Express" and the extension of 201 iXpress require some rethinking of existing routes. The region is looking for public input on a number of options at public consultation centres being held in November. Are you going?

It has taken me a while to process the east Waterloo options. And to my disappointment they still haven't been properly published. Everything below is pulled from the region's Planning and Works agenda document (warning: big PDF), starting around page 115. You can now see GRT's official options here. Note that they differ slightly from the P&W agenda.

There are three "east" options being presented.

In all options, the 201 Fischer-Hallmann iXpress is extended past the university to Conestoga Mall, and then on to Northfield & University. The University iXpress also terminates here, but how it gets there is different.

Also, 6 and 35 are "crossed": they swap their downtown endpoints, 6 goes to Uptown and 35 goes to Downtown. In doing so, they are much straighter than before, which helps them act as better grid participants. Presumably 6 will be linked to the western 5 route at Uptown, as 35 was before.

The Contenders

East Waterloo Option 1 showing route details.jpg
Option 1

Option 1 is probably the simplest. The University iXpress left-turns at Bridge St. Apart from the 6/35 swap, eastern routes remain largely unaltered (12 is tweaked.)

  • Bridge St. is well served, at least between Northfield and University.
  • 35 is now an (albeit slow) north/south route.
  • The future "minor node" at Northfield and Bridge is very well served, with access to it for much of the northeast area. (Disclaimer: I work here and this is personally important.)
  • Duplication of iXpress between Northfield/Bridge and Northfield/University
  • There are three ways to get from Northfield/Bridge to Conestoga Mall. Seems excessive.
  • 12 is almost completely pointless in this configuration. Only a fraction of possible trips on the 12 are not provided by other routes, faster and more frequently.
East Waterloo Option 2 showing route details.jpg
Option 2

Option 2 really shakes things up. The University iXpress stays on University. 35 is (partially) straightened out. 31 shortcuts along Bridge St.

I see this option as intriguing, but flawed.

  • 35 starts to resemble a legitimate grid participant along the east side.
  • 6 (presumably cross-linked to the 5 on the west side) is a nice east-west grid line.
  • An intriguing new route for the Lincoln neighbourhood.
  • Less iXpress duplication.
  • A more useful 12; Weber St. north of University finally sees some service.
  • 31 is a monumental waste. It provides some minimal value along Lexington and that's it (and there isn't much along that stretch, either). Short-cutting it up Bridge makes no sense: whose time are you saving? The people trying to reach Conestoga Mall, who could take 201 or the new Lincoln route instead?
  • 35 is half-heartedly straightened out. Its remaining neighbourhood wander diminishes its value as a way to get up and down the east side by adding substantial delay (close to 10 minutes.)
There is one small change that makes this option a lot more compelling: swap the Eastbridge detour from 35 to 31! Now you have a less useless 31, and a more direct 35. Everyone wins.

I would like to see 35 continue to adhere to 6's old Wellington St. route, too. That would help it remain useful to me, personally, as well as the rest of the Mount Hope/Breithaupt neighbourhood which is not well connected to the East side at all in this arrangement. One big change from the original council packet is that 35 serves Wellington like the 6 does.

East Waterloo Option 3 showing route details.jpg
Option 3

Option 3 puts 31 in the configuration it should have had in Option 2. 35 is bent and spindled past recognition. 12 is cut short

I'm not sure which of Options 1 and 2 are the Good and the Bad, but Option 3 is definitely the Ugly. This is a disaster for anyone trying to get up and down Bridge St.

  • Nothing that Option 2 doesn't already accomplish better.
  • Demonstrates the routing that Option 2's 31 should have.
  • Complete failure to provide a north/south grid route on the east side.
  • Big degradation of service for the Bridge Street corridor, accessibility to the Bridge/Northfield minor node.

Additional Thoughts on All Options

The new University iXpress provides a nice east-west route through the university district and it will be very valuable in either of its two proposed routes. In one configuration, it provides the Bridge St. corridor with good service. In the other, it ventures into the less developed University East area, but in doing so it might be a more "legible" route.

Of course, by doing that, people might start to ask "Why not make it University Avenue all the way across?" And why not? Combined with a sold Erb/Bridgeport limited-stop route through Uptown, we might have something viable. But that's not in the cards...

If we run the University iXpress up "around the horn" instead of Bridge St., it opens up a compelling routing for the 35 as an east-side north-south connector. But it needs to be more direct than Option 2 shows, sticking to Bridge and Lancaster all the way to Wellington or Victoria. (Though the short Auburn Drive detour at University is reasonable.)

While I would love to see 4 bus routes converge at Bridge and Northfield, and keep my current bus route to work, I have to say that Option 2 is probably the best starting point. Swapping Eastbridge detour duties from 35 to 31 is a no-brainer.

But what about what is possible, but not presented? TriTAG member Duncan Clemens has put together his vision of a restructured route network in this google map. He has some of the same ideas: Use Bridge and Lancaster as a corridor. Make 31 pick up the Eastbridge neighbourhood slack.

Hopefully the PCC will provide opportunities for some of these good ideas to bubble up to the surface. And hopefully we'll end up with something globally useful, and not deformed by competing self-interest.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Still Chicken about Urban Chickens?

Well hello there! Have you forgotten that there's actually a second author on this blog? :D

I'm popping up here to give an old post a little bit of a bump, because lately there has been some activity on the topic. A new group calling themselves the Kitchener Hen Association has been formed, and they are currently in the planning stages of approaching Kitchener City Council to examine the issue. Exciting! If you'd like to follow the group's progress (or get involved) check out (or join) the Facebook group or the Yahoo Groups mailing list.

Here's what I originally wrote on April 12, 2011:

I love the idea of urban hens. There is nothing I would like better than to have a small flock of hens merrily existing in my back yard. It's just another brick in the wall of my plan to turn my back yard into a little urban farm! (This plan still exists mostly in my head, and is being implemented extremely slowly, over the course of years. But it is a plan nonetheless!)

But it seems the City of Waterloo has struck another blow against urban chickens. For the past two years, the City has been running a "pilot project" of sorts, where certain registered households are permitted to keep hens under close scrutiny. After the two years was up (and after lots of study, public consultation, report-writing and bylaw-drafting) at a recent Council meeting the matter was voted on, and came down to a tie. It means the grandfathered hens are still safe, but the motion was defeated.  What's going to happen going forward?? I am a resident of Kitchener (though we are oh-so-close to Waterloo, with the property line of our back yard falling right on the city boundary) and while we in K-Town are expressly prohibited from keeping hens by the letter of the law, I had hoped that if Waterloo went ahead with allowing urban chickens, Kitchener City Council would be inspired to follow suit.

There is a blog post HERE that talks about some of the reasons why the motion might have been defeated, and touches on the possibility of an underlying fear that city-dwellers might have against the erosion of the boundaries between urban and rural existence. It's quite interesting.

Of course, bylaws are only enforced when there are complaints, and there are many households in the city of Kitchener with hens! But I'm just not brave enough to do it...I'm terrified of the idea of having to "get rid" of the birds once I have them and my neighbours complain. So, I continue to watch the issue, and fantasize about moving to the darn country where I can do these things....

Monday, October 1, 2012

[LOABKW] October and the winter coming

Despite a beautiful and long summer of cycling the like I have never seen before (1,750km and counting!) the arrival of October is a reminder that all good things must come to an end soon. Every previous season of cycling has done so before... sometimes earlier, sometimes later.

Canadian winters are the basis of many criticisms of investing in cycling. Taken to the extreme, they are why our cycling infrastructure is, according to some, "wasted six months of the year". While I doubt that my bike will be hung up for anything close to six months, it is a good bet that I will pedal very few kilometres during December, January, or February.

Let's explore why.


Winter is cold. No question, cycling in winter is less comfortable than other times of the year due to temperature.

Conditions beyond -15C with windchill will weed out many riders. But strangely, the bikes are often out and about with more moderate freezing temperatures... especially as spring approaches and these temperatures feel less frigid by comparison. Skiers know that cold is not an obstacle to outdoor winter travel.

Cold itself is probably the least relevant reason for my lack of winter cycling. Clearly, cold takes its toll, but cities like Minneapolis are much colder than Waterloo and this doesn't stop half of their cycling commuters from carrying on until spring. You can always dress warmer.

Winter biking in Minneapolis. That's -3F. Image source Cascade Bicycle Club

It's usually what accompanies the cold that is more relevant.

Snow and Ice

As an undergrad, I biked through snow now and then. Taxing and difficult, and when ice is involved, quite risky.

But you could say the same thing about driving: difficult and dangerous when ice and snow are around. So why are antiques and convertibles the only cars that hibernate the winter in the garage with the bikes? How is it that most motor vehicles drive on through the winter regardless?

The answer is simple: road maintenance.

The standard of road maintenance for snow and ice clearing that we see exceeds that of anything else, even (regrettably) sidewalks. As for trails, many see infrequent or even no snow clearing. Ice patches form, and are not as easily melted and dispersed as they are by automobile tires on the city streets.

Also, road maintenance tends to be for car lanes only. Bike lanes get short shrift, often becoming dumping ground for snow piles that, once melted, deposit their suspended debris in a thick mat of tire-destroying crap that remains uncleared until April. That formerly complete street is now a narrow car-only strip of pavement, and drivers once acclimatized to watching for bikes seem to have forgotten all about them.

Image Source: Treehugger

Snow and ice are major obstacles to cycling only because we are allowing them to be. Eventually we will learn from our colder but more cycling-savvy cousins, and we will establish a core cycling network with year-round maintenance. But until then few will be able to ride regularly through the winter because they have nowhere to ride.


Winter brings darkness and inclement weather.

When daylight savings is in effect, most people can cycle commute while the sun is up. As the days shorten and the the clock "falls back" in November, the ride home is suddenly a dark one.

And no matter what we do, we can't change Waterloo's latitude. Even in a climate-changed world, our winter days will always be short.

And yet, despite equating ourselves with Nordic countries, our city is at the same latitude as the balmy south coast of France. Long winter nights are a problem that all of the big cycling nations of Europe contend with, and to a greater degree than we have to.

Image source: Copenhagenize
The problem with cycling in the dark is sharing space with car drivers who have a harder time seeing us. This problem is only an issue when we have to share space with those cars. But with our snow-locked trails closed to us and our cycling lanes covered in plow drifts and glass, we have to contend with spending much more of our time negotiating for space with cars in the dark, possibly as a flurry starts to make conditions even more treacherous.

The solution here is the same as before. Establish a cycling network that is maintained year-round, give people the ability to ride their bikes in safe conditions separate from traffic, and visibility becomes less of a problem.

Image course: Copenhagenize

The hundred year storm

The aspects that lead people to criticize the practicality of cycling and the worth of investing in cycling infrastructure come back again and again to the quality of that infrastructure. Build it and maintain it properly, and these criticisms will lose their force.

Massive blizzards will still roll through each winter, and they will still prevent people from cycling. But then, we also urge people to stay off the roads in cars, too-- and see grim reminders of what happens when people inevitably don't.

But in a multi-modal city, people have choice. For those days that are too snowy, or too cold for even the hardiest cyclists, there is always transit, or carshare, or walking, or simply driving. Cycling is just a part of the puzzle. If it were a year-round transportation option, it could help many people reduce or eliminate their car ownership burden. This way lies real reduction in traffic congestion, as well as big savings for families who now maintain one, two or more cars because they must plan for the coldest season-- but end up using them year-round.


There's nothing special about our city that makes it impossible to be a bike-friendly place all twelve (or, perhaps, eleven and a half) months of the year.

To get us there, Kitchener and Waterloo should be filling in our trail network with a goal of establishing not only a contiguous, separated network for cycling (something that we still lack), but also committing to maintaining it through the winter.

As for me, this year I'll be carrying on through November as long as I can. This year I've got my sights on an arbitrary, but achievable, numeric goal: 2000km. For me, round numbers are good motivators. A little extra incentive to put on an extra layer, and keep pulling the bike out of the garage. The morning rides are becoming increasingly beautiful as the leaves turn, and that's an extra reward.

After that, I'll look at fighting another winter cycling obstacle: inertia. Yes, it's dark, yes, it's cold... but it's often neither snowy or icy. I haven't done a good job of taking advantage of these days when they come up because the bike is "put away". But if the trails and the expressway overpass are passable, this year I will try to get a few winter rides in as conditions allow.

Perhaps you can too.

Image source: whatsgoinon

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feed Fiddling

Heads up feed-based readers: I've tried turning on full feeds. This came as a request from a blackberry user whose antiquated mobile device struggled with advanced concepts such as "embedding", and "blogs" and "pixels".

The feed is available as before at and also through feedburner (this drives the "subscribe by email" feature) at .

I confess I'm not a feed expert. All I hope is that I haven't slammed a few subscribers' inboxes with 70 or so republished articles. My apologies if this goes pear-shaped.

Oh, what the hell. If they were worth reading once, they're worth reading again. Right?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

[LOABKW]: Getting from NE Waterloo to SW Kitchener by trail!

I work near Northfield and Bridge.

My dentist, for reasons best left unexplained, is at the Sunrise Centre at Ottawa and Fischer-Hallmann.

This is quite a trek: almost 16km! And today I did it by bike. The resulting ride shows off how well you can get around by trail, if you:
  • Know where you're going
  • Are willing to bridge the gaps in the cycling network.
Green, yellow and red dots highlight the good, meh, and bad parts of the ride. Blue dots are informational.

I hope this record helps you find better ways to get around on two wheels. And to learn how good our cycling network could be, with some key strategic improvements!

View the map.

Update: I had some good feedback on Facebook from a friend of mine, Chris D, who knows the southwest side of Kitchener better than I do. His advice is helpful:

"Some ideas in my neck of the woods (SW Kitchener):

During construction there is a bike/pedestrian crossing of the express way at Fisher-Hallman divided from normal traffic by a ba
rrier. Of course, with the speed of traffic through the bottleneck there you probably could ride with traffic (as I have).

After you get across the expressway you immediately gain a bike lane that can be used to get to the trails that border the culvert all the way to Victoria Park. As an added advantage, you can follow the trails under Westmount so crossing there isn't too bad... and if you don't like the bike lane on Fisher-Hallman, you can turn at McGarry Drive and pick up a trail along the creek that takes you to the culvert trails.

Another interesting path is to follow the paths on the hydro corridor, which will take you from Kingswood (a block from Homer-Watson) to Fisher-Hallman at Activa. Based on your path I'd cross Ottawa at Westmount and you'll find access to this trail on Westmount 50m past the intersection. It can be a challenge to follow between Westmount and Fisher-Hallman because it splits a few times, but if you end up on Dinison St it's easy enough to pick up the small trail to the lights at Fisher-Hallman and Activa further down anyway.

Once you're on Activa, take Grey Fox to Orchard Cresent and you can pick up a trail that drops you across Ottawa from the Home Depot at the Sunrise Centre.

The advantage here is that despite needing to cross Ottawa twice you don't need to travel along it at all..."
My notes on this: Fischer-Hallmann (I believe) will have bike lanes across the expressway-- and a removal of a dangerous basket weave-- when construction is complete. But FH is (to me) a route of necessity only, not a preferred choice. Much better for roads of this size and speed to have a separated trail or cyclepath, as parts of FH already does and will soon.

He also provided an alternative route segment. But it involves an un-improved section of Westmount, which doesn't seem better to me than a bike-laned section of Ottawa.

I see this as a key area for strategic infill. A little work along Westmount could greatly improve connectivity for the whole area!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Routes and Secrets of east Waterloo

Fall looms

It's that part of September that is still officially summer, but is fall in spirit. It's positively autumnal these last few days. And it feels good! Even if it's a tad wet. I admit that I wussed out of cycling through Tuesday morning's deluge and took transit instead.

I've not blogged much about #loabKW lately, because there hasn't really been anything very interesting to say. I bike during the week. It's normal. The Lexington expressway crossing still sucks, but that's normal too. Groceries get bought, places get visited, life is surprisingly unremarkable.

But I do like the ducks. And the bunnies. I see a lot of each on my rides. Flickers, too, for some reason-- you can recognize them by their white butts as they fly away.

That's one thing I haven't really talked about: the rides, and the routes that I'm on every day. I do try and explore as much of KW as I can on bike, but most of the time I'm going to and from work. Much of these rides are on quiet streets or trails (though some trails have only recently been reopened) and when you're on two wheels, you can take in the scenery a lot more.

Route secrets

If you need to move to and from north-east Waterloo, you move from embarrassment of cycling riches to awful choke points and back again. There is great cycling in the neighbourhoods around Bridge Street, north of University:

<<<< sorry guys, Google doesn't embed maps with the cycling layer turned on, because Bob returned late from lunch last Friday and didn't spend 5 minutes implementing that feature... please click the links to follow along. As for Google, they and I need to have a few words. >>>>

Snippets of trail, lots of cut-through paths (although not on Allenby Court), and cycling lanes on roads like Bridge and Davenport. Even the ward councilor, Diane Freeman, is an avid cyclist.
Unfortunately, you can't get there from here. Literally: if you don't have the intestinal fortitude to mix with speeding traffic-- or are willing to flaunt the rules and sensibility by biking a sidewalk perilously close to a low guardrail and a 30 foot drop to the expressway below-- this neighbourhood is entirely cut off from the rest of Waterloo. But we've been here before and we know the solution is: road-diet Lexington. Just waiting on staff and council to see the light.

Still: if you can stomach Lexington, the city is your oyster. Well, maybe not quite-- UW is a major high-traffic gap away (the Columbia/King mess), but you can get to Uptown and to Kitchener if you know where you're going. Dearborn Boulevard is your gateway off Lexington and away from the 80km/h traffic, and connects with the great trail system that is the Forwell Creek and Hillside Park. From here you can ride trails up to Manulife headquarters, over to Canadian Tire, or all the way down to University Avenue near a small street called Carter Avenue.

It's hard to get across University right now, but that will change in a year or two: reconstruction will add a refuge island here. And Carter leads you to Moses Springer Park and into the heart of the bike-navigable Lincoln neighbourhood.

Infill! Infill!

Last night I saw something that piqued my interest: a City of Waterloo planning map that shows a proposed trail extension from Lincoln Park across Weber to connect with a trail leading to Uptown, here at Mackay Crescent. Getting across Weber here is key. I hope discussions between city and region bear fruit.

If you can get across Weber right here (here's a hint: you can't. It's stupid.) then you have almost clear sailing all the way to Uptown Waterloo, the Laurel Trail, the Iron Horse, you name it. Otherwise, there are some options if you filter along Lincoln Ave and through the Sobeys plaza (pick up your groceries while you're there!) and then on down Devitt or Moore. Moore provides access to Duke, which is the best way to downtown Kitchener on a bike if you can't get to the Iron Horse... or it will be, until the Spur Trail is constructed.

(Do you sense a theme? A theme of being close to a great cycling network but for a few critical gaps? Talk to your councilors. Explain to them the wonder of infill. Tell them you're not willing to wait until the gaps get reconstructed.)

Of course, this also passes the Mount Hope cemetery, which is my stomping grounds (or... maybe a little less in the cemetery as near it.) From here you're on your own.


But if you want to make the same trip in a different way, you could try riding past the Canadian Tire, braving a short stretch of Weber and Columbia, and head down Regina. Not too bad, especially if you work the lights right. You still have to cross at Lexington though.

Or you could take a different plot and head down Bridge to Lancaster (possibly avoiding the roundabout by taking this dogleg). This is not pleasant cycling, as it's decades-old infrastructure with no cycling accommodation-- but the widths are generally good, and if you don't mind a brutal hill or two, you could do okay. Lancaster happens to lead right to Queen, which is a great gateway to Kitchener too. But it's a traffic lunatic asylum, so be warned.

Look, what I'm trying to say is that there's some great cycling in the City of Waterloo, especially on the east end. But to enjoy it, you have to deal with the fact that the City of Waterloo is in fact two cycling networks, disconnected by an expressway. Maybe this will be fixed soon, but in the meantime you should ask yourself if you really need to wait for that.

I can't. I have to be out there.

There's ducks, after all. And bunnies. And flickers.

See you on the trails.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A by-election of significance

A brief commentary for today, by-election day in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Today's a big day in KW. Provincial by-election here and in one other riding, where voters have the ability to push the minority Liberals into de facto majority territory-- or deny them that majority. The result has been a huge amount of attention paid to our area, as this column indicates.

We're having a by-election just 11 months after the last general provincial election, because of the resignation of two MPPs: Elizabeth Witmer here in KW, and Greg Sorbara in Vaughan.

I see the results here as having a huge influence on the next election. If the Libs can keep Vaughan and secure the KW seat, it's all quiet on the election front for the next few years as they'll control the house. If the NDP or the PCPO prevail, it could point the way towards how the province will swing in an inevitable no-confidence election some time in the next year or two. And while nobody expects the Greens to win, it will be interesting to see what kind of support will they garner, and how will that affect party platforms next time around.

And to top it all off, the KW result is no foregone conclusion. Nobody is sure how any of the big three will place.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[LOABkw] The Carshare Factor

Life On A Bike in KW is a series of posts about Chris' attempt to get as much done as possible on two wheels, while Erin takes the car out of town to observe birds. How cycle-friendly is KW? 

So far I've seen that life on a bike isn't so difficult. Commuting, errands and groceries are all possible, large swathes of Kitchener and Waterloo have reasonable bicycle access, and I've seen the value of transit in support of cycling, especially as a backup plan. But sometimes, a motorized vehicle is called for.

Perhaps it is a trip out of town to a place not served by our (awful) intercity transit services. Car rentals are fairly cost effective for these needs, especially if it is on a weekend, when a fifty gets you a sedan for two days. (Just make sure you have insurance.)

But for trips around town to haul heavy items, there's no better an option than Carshare.

Grand River CarShare is a non-profit organization that has a fleet of about 20 cars, mostly distributed around the uptown, downtown and university areas. If you become a member, these cars are available to book and use for short trips or long.

I joined as a Simple Plan member (no, not that Simple Plan), which gives me access to Carshare vehicles for $10 an hour (plus HST), gas and insurance included. This definitely adds an overhead cost on trips that require a car, so I put a bit more effort into planning, to make as productive use of the time as possible:

4 five gallon water jugs...
...80kg of water softener salt, some homebrew supplies... and some brews.
Not even a long-tail is going to haul around a couple hundred kilograms of cargo, let's be honest. (Or, maybe it could! But it wouldn't be much fun.)

Like transit, carshare is most useful if it is nearby. Unlike transit, the destination can be anywhere. This key difference, along with the haulage, helps define the niche that carshare serves well. You may need to live in a central location to take advantage of it, but it helps to live in a central location to reduce your dependence on car ownership to begin with. And interestingly, Carshare is a service whose viability and stability and utility all improve as its fleet (and member base) grow.

From a cycling perspective, carshare fills in the gaps that bikes, transit or simple walking aren't suited for. Acting like a safety net in our as-yet car-dominant community, the service gives its members confidence that they won't be hamstrung by that one awkward trip that can't be made without a private vehicle. The Classic and Regular plans suit the car-free who still have a week-to-week need for a car, while the Simple is a great "insurance policy" for 1-car couples, or for the cycling-enthusiastic temporary ornithological bachelor.

Grand River CarShare strike me as a professionally run organization, keenly focused on their mission (and budget). The value they provide for the price is incredible (to the point that I've even asked them how they manage to stay viable.) Given the niche that they fill, they are a strategic asset to KW's transportation mix and we're lucky to have them.

For $40 a year, you could never book a car and still get your money's worth just from peace of mind.

Perhaps they will consider installing bike racks at their car stations, for people to bike to and from their vehicles. (I was disappointed to find that the new Matrix doesn't easily fit my bike and is missing some of the great cargo features that makes our older model Matrix so useful.)

The Park&Union 2012 Matrix. Nice car to drive, but just not as handy as its predecessor.

Friday, August 3, 2012

[LOABkw] An uneventful week

It's actually a relief that this week's getting around town without a car was uneventful. The two weeks prior provided lots of fodder for blog posts, but it wears down a fella, you know?

One big milestone this week though. I've now cycled 1100km for the year. That matches the high water mark I set in 2010: from now on, every ride is personal-record-setting. I'm confident that I can break 1500km, and considering setting my sights on the 2 megametre mark.

There was some minor, though not unpleasant shifts in the routine this week:

Monday: My company's Habitat for Humanity build day! I was presented with an opportunity to cycle commute somewhere completely different: Howe Drive, near Westmount and Highway 8. That was a pleasant ride, almost all trails and side road, though I did discover that Concordia Park has the same sewer affliction as Hillside Park: trail closure for construction forcing me to detour.

That's me, doing a Here's Johnny under the armpit of the top right orange guy

I'm impressed with trail connectivity on Kitchener's southwest side, though the expressway remains an obstacle. I was glad I didn't have to go any further south along Westmount than the 50m or so it took to get from trailhead to build site.

Also, no lost appendages or broken limbs. A total success!

Tuesday: TriTAG hat on for the afternoon, to have a meeting with Waterloo city government and a developer. Which meant dressing up beyond the usual standards for a software geek, and arriving Uptown without being dripping with sweat.

Which, sadly, meant leaving the bike at home. Fortunately, there's GRT: once again, going car-free means going multi-modal. As demonstrated with the flat tire incident last week, part of good cycling infrastructure is a good transit system.

The rest of the week: The aforementioned Hillside Park sewer construction work is progressing. Over the last couple of weeks, I saw some depressing signs of construction crews taking two steps forward, one step back:

A lovely concrete footing for the new bridge.

The same concrete footing, two days later.

Finally, on Thursday:

We have a bridge!
The Hillside Park work can't end soon enough for me. It's my preferred cycling route (and a great way to get from Lexington to the Lincoln neighbourhood), and it has been closed all year. Originally supposed to be done in Spring 2012, and then in mid-July, I admit I will be surprised if it reopens in August. But it's getting closer.

A few other route alterations from routine: a trip down the Iron Horse to pick up a piccolo from a prescribed piccolo drop-off point (don't ask), and a trip to the chiropractor this morning which meant tackling the Lancaster/Bridge roundabout, and Bridge St (a route that I have grown increasingly unhappy about). At least the construction signs are gone.

Erin returns this afternoon for a weekend off from birdnerding. Two whole days with her this time! Maybe I'll sneak the Matrix out to fill water jugs so I can brew on holiday Monday. That isn't cheating, is it?

Friday, July 27, 2012

[LOABkw] Feeling Flat

Life On A Bike in KW is a series of posts about Chris' attempt to get as much done as possible on two wheels, while Erin takes the car out of town to observe birds. How cycle-friendly is KW? 

Monday: disaster! About three blocks away from work on my way home, I notice that my bike seat feels... springier... than usual. I look down, and it's not the seat, it's the tire.

What a deflating feeling.

No slow leak here: within a minute or two, the tire is completely flat. And I am completely unprepared. A patch kit in my pannier, but no pump!

Getting home was not too bad. Despite having a good idea of the bus system around work, I missed the first attempt, but I caught one in the direction of Conestoga Mall. Thankfully, all GRT buses have bike racks. You've seen these, right?

Nice rack.

So getting home wasn't too bad, though I imagine some people were wondering why I was walking my bike up and down the same street.

I should have been able to repair the flat where I was, but it turns out I wasn't even able to repair it at home:

  • I didn't have a working emergency pump.
  • My patch kit was so old the rubber compound had fossilized!
  • I didn't have a replacement tube.
  • I had just loaned Erin my floor pump the day before because of her own flat tire woes.
This may seem unforgivable, but here's a secret: this is my first bike flat ever. You could excuse my complacency.

The next morning, I resolved to take the old Jamis to work via Canadian Tire, where I could correct all these things. It worked, but I discovered that in the two months since I had last rode the Jamis, it had gone from being my trusty steed for the last 12 years to an almost unrideable, painful, ill-fitting, dilapidated torture device.

Wow. I can't believe I rode that bike for over a decade.

None the less, I made it through the day (albeit with some of the neck and shoulder pain that characterized the last couple of years.) I brought home a new mini-pump, a tube, and a couple of new patch kits. And I hoped to hell the a patch would work because taking the wheel off would be a major chore...

Internal hub & brake: low maintenance != easy maintenance.

You see, the same piece of high tech on the Brodie that makes it low-maintenance and reliable also makes it much harder to get a wheel off. And the unforgiving topology of tori requires wheel removal. The Nexus hub pictured above requires both brake and gear cables to be detached and has an extra mount point to worry about too, along with alignment issues when you put it back together.

This guy didn't have to contend with a hub in his record-setting tube switch:

Fortunately, while you can't change a tube without completely removing the wheel, you can patch it in place. But you have to have a patch kit that hasn't expired, and you have to have a pump. Even if you can't patch it perfectly, it may be the difference between being stranded, and being able to nurse your way home or to a bike shop.

So, some lessons from this event:

  • Have a pump and a patch kit. Preferably attached to your bike so they're always there. (My patch kit still has no home but the pannier.)
  • Keep some bus tickets in your wallet. If you're in town and have a smart phone, Google Maps is invaluable for finding bus stops and will tell you when the next one is coming. It can also give you transit directions home.
  • Also with the bus, if the racks are full but the bus is not, be prepared to remind the driver that GRT says you can bring the bike on board.
  • If you're entirely carless, a spare beater bike is not a bad idea. After all, you may not even have a shop with bike repair equipment within walking distance.
Good news though: I've patched the tube and it seems to be holding. If this bike is susceptible to flats, I'll have to invest in some different tires that are puncture-resistant: Schwalbe makes a line of them that a friend recommended to me. I really don't want to have to take the back wheel off, ever.

And I don't want to be caught flat-footed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

[LOABkw] Signalling. Also, black pickup trucks?

Nothing is ever simple. For instance, signalling on a bike.

A cautionary tale

Last year, I was biking up Bridge St. in the bike lanes that weren't officially bike lanes yet, approaching my right turn onto Labrador. I sensed someone coming up behind me, and I made a proper right-turn signal (left arm out, forearm bent up) before starting my turn.

The driver in the black pickup truck (why is it always black pickup trucks?) must have seen my signal, because the alternative doesn't bear thinking about. As I banked into the turn, trying to hold speed, the truck turned with me, also with speed. I was probably doing 20kph on the inner turn, and the truck matched me positionally right through the turn, but at much higher speed on a wider turn. Probably around 40kph. His tires were squeaking as he roared off. One wobble and I would have been under them.

The lesson is that the information you convey by signalling may be used against you. Particularly with right turns, I have seen many situations where maintaining the appearance that you are going straight is the best way to guarantee you'll get to turn without conflict.

Friday's theme

On Friday morning's commute, I biked up Regina towards the Bridgeport intersection. I was passed by (you guessed it) a black pickup truck, who turned his right turn signal on. This gave me pause, and it took a moment for me to realize what felt wrong... Bridgeport is one-way and he was signalling against it. I took my standard defensive position behind the right-turning vehicle though... after all, his destination may be a driveway beyond the intersection. Not to mention that it's usually just a good idea to avoid filtering up the right.

This is one time the air horn was useful. As the light turned green, he began his turn onto Bridgeport, and I started blasting the horn and gesticulating a very non-standard "don't go that way!" signal. Not sure if he reacted to me or not, but he straightened out and roared off. I could almost taste his embarrassment, but all's well that ends well.

No such thing as an overabundance of caution

There was an incident later that same ride that served to remind me that I can still learn to cycle safer. It worked out okay, and whether I was within my rights or not is ambiguous, but I put myself at risk. A new lesson learned.

I crossed the expressway at Lexington, and prepared to shift left to turn at Davenport. I had to wait longer than usual because of a passing heavy truck, but behind him I had plenty of room to clearly signal and make my lane switch. Or so I thought.

The next vehicle was coming up at a speed that had to be close to 80kph. I signaled left, shoulder checked, judged that I had room (but didn't pick up on the rate of closure.) I started angling left, glanced again, and saw that the vehicle was much closer, coming up fast, and planning to pass me on my left. I yanked myself back to the right, the driver realized what my intent was and slowed right down, and after I was sure he was leaving me room, I made my lane switch.

(No, the vehicle was not a black pickup truck. But it was a black SUV.)

Reviewing the incident in my head, I have realized:
  • Lexington is a speedway, with dangerous speeding commonplace; I know this and must not forget it
  • I didn't have to take advantage of that gap: there are other ways across the intersection
  • Signalling and shoulder-checking caused me to veer left earlier than I wanted.
It's not clear I was in the right in that situation, but even if I was: I can be right, and still dead.

Yes, the driver was coming up dangerously fast, but that is the fault of Lexington's road design as much it is that of the driver. Waterloo City Council can fix Lexington, if they choose (but so far they have waffled.) It would enable cycling for a lot more people for whom it is too intimidating now. I don't think less of anyone who refuses to bike through this corridor, but there are no alternate routes when it comes to Waterloo's great cycling gulf.

Irony and Irrationality

Friday afternoon, while working through the another miserable gap in our cycling network I must cross on a daily basis (Forwell Creek to Regina via Weber and Columbia), I apparently made an impression on the driver behind me with my signalling (lane-claiming, right turn, left turn.) She called out "nice signalling, buddy!" as I was preparing to turn onto Regina.

I waved, but I was peeved. She may have said "nice signalling, buddy!" but what I heard was "I will allow you to use the road!" I felt the same way I did when another chatty driver said she would give me a pass to go bike on the sidewalk because I was a nice guy. It's the idea that drivers own the road, and it is at their sufferance that those not in a motorized vehicle are permitted.

In retrospect, my reaction was completely irrational. This motorist was probably expressing simple appreciation that I was doing everything I could to be predictable and safe. She gave me room and time and was totally not driving a black pickup truck. So when I compare the morning's incident to the afternoon's, there is no good reason for me to be unhappy about that.

And yet...

The risks of signalling

The best way to be safe on a bike is to be predictable, and signalling is an important part of avoiding surprise. On the other hand, I have mentioned three risks of signalling from a bike:

  • There is a cost: taking a hand off the handlebars robs some of your control.
  • You may think your signal has bought you room to move, while a motorist may not have seen or has ignored it.
  • Your signal may remove ambiguity from your actions, which may cause someone to be less cautious.
(The last one must be balanced against the fact that removing ambiguity is usually a good thing!)

For me, signalling is about making the best use of the small amount of control a cyclist has to influence the behaviour of other road occupants. It is a tool to be used in moderation, and always with a mind towards unintended consequences.

Black pickup trucks??

Early this spring, the driver of a black pickup truck-- whom I delayed for about three and a half seconds at an intersection-- yelled at me to get the hell off the road and onto the sidewalk.

I should acknowledge the possibility that there is only one very confused black pickup truck driver in KW, who perhaps owns a black SUV as a second vehicle, and I have the bad fortune of running across him time and again. It seems unlikely that one style of vehicle should attract less attentive drivers.

And yet...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

[LOABkw] Tools of the trade

Life On A Bike in KW is a series of posts about Chris' attempt to get as much done as possible on two wheels, while Erin takes the car out of town to observe birds. How cycle-friendly is KW? 

Erin is now at Rock Point, banding birds. I am officially car-less. More or less. For instance, I booked a car rental for the weekend after this one, to go visit her. The price shocked me... only $53 for a two day weekend rental? I wonder if I'm missing something. At that rate, you could rent a lot of weekends before you hit your typical lease or loan payment, assuming you don't need a car during the week.

Also, the rental agency (Avis) is a short walk from my home. That's a big deal: when I rent a car to travel for work, I insist on renting from that place. No pickup/drop-off hassle. Once again, the importance of geographic proximity over other aspects when you aren't driving yourself everywhere.

The Obligatory Gear Post

I backed myself into a corner, saying that the next thing I would blog about would be a "what I ride" post. Turns out, I don't like dictating my own blogging agenda beforehand. I like to go with the flow, write about whatever is on my mind.

Still, this is a post that needs writing, for this series to cover what I want it to. Since I've been cycle-commuting for twelve years, I've tried a lot of different products, clothes, clever ideas and gimmicks. A kind of darwinism of usefulness, and a new-found love for cycling minimalism, has whittled those down to the things that are truly valuable. I hope you find it interesting... or at least informative.

What I want to do is draw a line between what is truly important, what is helpful, and what is simply "nice to have". Cycling requires very little. Cyclists tend to accumulate stuff over time. If you're a gear fetishist-- and I admit, I used to be-- you could easily turn a cheap travel option into an expensive hobby. You have been warned.


In June, I put aside my undersized and beat-up Jamis, and bought a beautiful new Brodie Section.7 from King Street Cycles. This one has a few must-haves, like fenders and rear cargo rack. It still needs a chain guard, and will get one as soon as I'm biking in long pants again.

Section.7 and the things I ride with
(I recommend local retailers for bikes, as many of them offer free service on purchases. This is really helpful, if you're not the type to tear bikes down and put them back together again in rideable shape. Even though I've replaced the Jamis' whole transmission, I appreciate not having to monkey up this bike.)

Riding this bike has taught me some important lessons:

1. The right bike is much better than the wrong bike. The Jamis served me well, but was ill-fitted to my body and physical limitations. That sapped my motivation. I didn't want to spend money on a new bike when I had a working one, but I haven't regretted this purchase now that I finally made it.

Still, the corollary to this lesson is, any bike is better than no bike. If you want to get started, don't let the idea of "finding the perfect bike" get in the way. Chances are you'll need to ride a couple of years before you even know what the perfect bike is. I rode the Jamis for 12 years before I knew.

2. A beautiful bike will make you fearful. Bike theft is real. I bought a flashy bike. Now I stress about where I leave it. This is not a problem I had so much with the old Jamis.

If this idea bothers you, buy a used bike for cheap. Of course, when you do, try to make sure it's a legitimate sale and not "hot".

3. You don't need a billion gears. The Section.7 has a 7-speed shifter and no rear derailleur. In KW, that is enough. And now I understand how the Dutch get by with 3-speed bikes in their flat country.

The Jamis was a 21-speed and had a granny gear for steep hills (which I never used it on a road, it felt like surrender.) Turns out, I didn't need all that for city riding. Chances are you don't either.

The Brodie has a number of other nice features. I like twist-shifters, but that's a personal thing-- many hate them. The internal hub shifting system is a wonder for city riding. Simply put, I can shift at a stop... that simple fact has changed my world. Also the benefit of lower maintenance, as the hub is a sealed unit.

Okay, that's enough talking about the bike. Less text, more pictures!


Okay, let's get this out of the way first: I do not support mandatory helmet laws. I believe bicycle helmets have their place and provide some small safety benefit, and adults should be free to make their own risk assessment. The effects of mandatory helmet laws on cycling safety are complex, and sometimes detrimental. Read here if you want to understand more.

I do wear a helmet for a substantial portion of my cycling, because I am frequently trekking 9km through some busy traffic corridors, and I'll take any edge I can get. These days, I'm wearing a Bern Brentwood.

Size XXL.
You should replace your helmet every 5 or so years (recommendations vary) so this year I decided to move away from the "spaceship on your head" fluted style to something that I felt would provide some better side and back impact protection. There is a lot of debate about whether traditional helmets truly provide a safety benefit (especially when weighed against the effect of risk compensation) and while this is still not a helmet rated for being hit by a fast-moving car, I think it's a step up.

For short rides within my neighbourhood I will omit this. Sometimes this makes me uncomfortable, but the reaction is almost a superstitious one. I've gone 12 years without ever being hit by a car, so sometimes I wonder if I use a helmet as a totem. I have had a serious fall at over 30kph, but even then my head never touched the ground.


If I had written this a year ago, I'd have a lot more to say about clothes. But I've decided to put aside the cycling-specific clothes as much as I can... bike shorts, half-gloves, yellow-lensed glasses... whatever. By and large, I now cycle in my street clothes as much as possible. I will occasionally wear a loose-fitting synthetic cycling shirt, if it's excessively hot.

There may be more to say about clothes when the weather cools. If the weather ever cools. The short version is, have a decent jacket for wet weather, but you won't be biking in the rain that often. Apart from that, just bike in your clothes as much as you can. Or bring a change of clothes, if it helps. You don't need to wear a special uniform.


Pay attention. This is important.

City cycling inevitably means negotiating for space with cars. There are a number of things you should strongly consider having.

Don't skimp. Get a high quality rear flasher.
Get a rear flasher. And use it whenever you're on major roads, even in the daylight. A good one will be visible a hundred metres away in bright sun.

This is really valuable. I notice a big difference in the space cars give me on the road when I'm running this flasher. I believe it makes motorists aware of me earlier, which gives them more time to pass me in an orderly fashion, instead of a late reaction which results in a tight high-speed squeeze.

In combination with assertive lane placement (something I'll talk about some other time), that means that almost all drivers will pass me courteously on the worst roads.

The one above is a Planet Bike flasher from MEC. Not expensive. Get one.


Keep a front light for night rides.
The front reflector is legally required in most places. But I strongly recommend having a front light handy for riding after dark. If it flashes, that's helpful. You want it more to be seen, than to illuminate the road that streetlights are already shining on.

The Night Rider I have mounted on there is a fairly expensive new acquisition, enough to dazzle in daylight. At the very least, you should have a 1 watt LED lamp handy. And don't worry about batteries... unless you have a high-power light, they'll last for ever. (And if you have something brighter, it should be rechargeable.)

Deliberate mirror shot.
My left handlebar carries two vital tools: a mirror (another must-have for mixing with traffic) and a bell (a must-have for mixing with pedestrians.) Get a mirror and a bell. Use them.

The red switch on the right is something a little extra: an Air Zound air horn. It's somewhat handy, but I wouldn't whole-heartedly recommend it. It can really grab motorists' attention (or wake up the gaggle of ipod-wearing students blocking the entire trail.) But it makes you choose between horn and brakes, and you should always be choosing brakes.

It's astoundingly loud, though. And good value for money. I wish I could mount it closer to my thumb, but the twist shifter on the right handlebar gets in the way...


There's a lot of different products for carrying things in bikes.

Get a rear pannier rack. With that, you can get traditional pannier bags (MEC makes some great ones), or rear baskets. Refer back to the first photo to see each.

Speaking of which, I'm very fond of these Basil Memories baskets. They hook on and off very quickly, and have an integrated handle. Great for grocery shopping, though they do bang around noisily.

They should pay me an advertising fee.


What you get for a lock depends on your bike, location and level of paranoia. There's a lot of opinions about locks on the internet, and most of it will make you terrified to leave your bike anywhere ever again.

I have a Kryptonite U-lock and cable combo. The cable is a handy addition, allowing me to quickly run a noose through the frame and front wheel. Lets me relax a bit more about letting this bike out of my sight.

Final words

Hopefully, I've made this post descriptive but not prescriptive. This is what works for me, what works for you might be quite different. But take a look around... you may find exactly what's right for you.

For instance, yesterday I locked up at the supermarket next to a young lady with an awesome long tail. I admired her ride for its cargo capacity (200lb, she said.) She admired mine for its gearing and light weight. (I guess we checked out each other's equipment.)

It's great that there are finally so many purpose-built bikes showing up here in Canada. Utility cycling and commuting can be done with your bog-standard mountain bike, but gradually we're catching on to better alternatives. With bikes built for just getting around, infrastructure to make us welcome on the street and and at our destination, and learning to normalize cycling as a routine part of life, this community is shifting gear.

It's exciting to see.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

[LOABkw] Conversations & Provisions

 Life On A Bike in KW is a series of posts about Chris' attempt to get as much done as possible on two wheels, while Erin takes the car out of town to observe birds. How cycle-friendly is KW?


Yesterday was not a great day to be on a bike, at least for me. Heavy traffic means aggressive and unpredictable drivers. Also, there is work underway on a site off Bridge St., which presented me with this wonderful example of bike riders as second-class citizens:

Extra points from the judges for artistic placement right next to the bike symbol
I have since conversed with the region, who said they'd look into it. Today, at least, the practice was still in effect.

After that and the traffic which followed, just when I thought I was clear of the insanity, my chain popped. That meant struggling with it for ten minutes under a hot sun in a used car lot near Lancaster and Victoria.

Earlier in the trip, because of the heavy traffic and everybody's slow speed, I had not one but two interesting conversations in the street. One was while I waited behind left-turning traffic on Labrador, watching a driver nose out of a driveway alongside to my right. She saw my concern:

"Are you going left?"


"I didn't want to cut you off. You must take your life into your own hands here!"

I take my time, and it works out. It's a nutty intersection.

"I don't know why you don't hop along the sidewalk and bypass all this?"

Technically that's illegal. I'd rather not do that. 
"Oh, I hate when people do that! But you're a nice guy, I'll give you a pass."

...needless to say, I passed on the pass to pass.

Later, on Bridge south of University, I came upon a big traffic backup. This is an area to keep your wits about you: Google Maps calls this part of Bridge a "bicycle-friendly road" (code for "not a complete meat grinder but don't expect any favours") and when car traffic is slow, it behooves bikes to take it easy too. Zipping up the right is tempting, but there's not even a strip of paint to suggest you have a right to that space, and it can disappear without warning.

A cyclist came up behind me while I pedaled slowly. Over my shoulder I chatted him up.

I'm not going any faster, so feel free to pass me. But this road can eat you up, so be careful.

"Yeah, it's as bad as Lexington."  Ahah, I think... a fellow traveler.

The cyclist passes me, and then eventually hops up onto the sidewalk. Despite how I feel about that, I have a hard time holding that against him: he uses it to get to the crosswalk at Bridle and turn left, the heavy traffic not offering him any opportunity. Prior to that, though, he quips:
"The cars don't care!"
Considering my previous conversation on Labrador, it may be that the cars don't care... but the drivers certainly do.


Today, at T minus three days to Erin's departure, I took the car to work specifically to obtain a few things difficult to transport on bike.

Are those maps? Does anyone use maps anymore?

The bird food is a lunchtime trip to Exotic Wings in St. Clements to save about $30 over the prices at the vet down the road. The water (and the propane, in fact) is RO, for homebrewing. KW's water is quite drinkable, though it's a little hard to brew beer with. How would I fill this need without a car? Possibly with carshare, or maybe by investing in an RO system at home. The propane could also be made obsolete if I switched over to natural gas (which has already been done for our barbecue.)

I should consider these moves anyway, car or no. I like things that reduce the number of silly errands I have to run. But if you don't have casual access to heavy goods transportation, it becomes even more important to think about.

Time to say goodbye to the Matrix for a few months. But it has a little parting message for you to think about:

Won't you too?
So bike safe, walk safe, drive safe.

I'll get to that "tools of the trade" post soon!

Monday, July 9, 2012

[LOABkw] Countdown and looking ahead

Life On A Bike in KW is a series of posts about Chris' attempt to get as much done as possible on two wheels, while Erin takes the car out of town to observe birds. How cycle-friendly is KW?

Erin heads out of town this weekend. You can follow her bird-nerding adventures on a blog aptly titled Adventures of a Bird Nerd. And since she's taking the car, my countdown is on.

Erin wishes her bird nerding would be this awesome.
The funny part is that to a large extent, things won't change next week. (When it comes to getting around, that is-- Erin's absence will certainly affect my life for the next few months!) After all, I'm already cycling to work 3 or 4 days a week. How much different will this be?

The challenge is going to be in errand and "one-off" trips, I think:
  • Groceries: I can do it, but I have to think about volume and weight.
  • Hardware store (hard to predict what you need to haul to keep a house in working order. A box of screws is easy-- a new toilet, less so.)
  • Pet store. (7 birds to feed, and the best deal for food is over in St Clements.)
  • Visits out of town.
  • Heavy occasional supplies that I use for brewing beer, such as RO water and propane refills
When I started thinking about this, I realize that despite the fact that I have reduced my personal car dependence quite far, it's the last mile (so to speak) which is the least flexible. Alternatives exist for specific things, like I know where to get more parakeet food in town, conveniently on my way home-- but at almost twice the cost. Hardware stores tend to offer delivery.

A big, less obvious benefit of car ownership is that you don't have to think about this sort of thing very hard. You make a decision and go. Your cargo capacity is enough to handle almost any need. You can go further to get the best deal. You can go whatever the conditions are, and you have secure storage on hand for multi-stop trips.

I can haul a lot on my bike, considering it's a fairly conventional design. Two Basil Memories baskets are already demonstrating their value:

Handles with all the grace of a pregnant sow.

... and this past weekend, I proved that they had the strength to carry 24 cans of pop on one side, and 5kg of ice on the other. That's good, but there's no way I'm fitting a 20lb propane tank or a 5-gallon water jug in there. There will be the point at which I turn to Car Share. And there's always transit, too.

Though this guy has figured it out.

Flat Rate vs. Pay-as-you-go

It's clear that car ownership is simpler, and while driving an owned car is certainly not free, a single trip feels virtually free-- purchase, insurance, maintenance and even to a certain extent gasoline all feel like fixed overheads. (Yes, I believe it's easy to think of fuel as a fixed overhead: ask yourself if you mentally debited $1 from your budget the last time you drove 10km.) Car ownership feels like a flat rate that once you pay, you get a lot of convenience for free. People like that sort of thing.

Car Share and transit are pay-as-you-go, and they come with the (sometimes uncomfortably obvious) awareness of what each trip costs. Do I want to take a Car Share vehicle for an hour ($10 on my plan) to get a $15 propane tank fill? Or spend $70 to visit my parents? That incremental cost seems outrageously expensive, but it has to be compared against the cost of buying and running a new car ($8-$13K a year) or even keeping a cheaper used car on the road.

It seems clear to me that there will be opportunities to trade time for money, and money for time. Overall, there will be a drive (no pun intended) to seek efficiencies: combine trips, buy in bulk, choose destinations based on accessibility rather than bargain-hunting across town.

And of course, do as much as I can on two wheels, for free.

(courtesy Threadless)
Next time... the tools of the trade!