Monday, May 23, 2016

Moving Frankenbikes From Maker Faire to Main Street

Yesterday I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo.  I got to go to the one in New York a couple of years ago and enjoyed the MacGyver-esque vibe walking around with really nice people dressed like Lord Humungus’ minions. 

I originally wasn’t going to go to this one since I’d only get to visit for a couple of hours, but I’ve been feeling intellectually malnourished lately and thought I'd counter that sensation by peering at the talents of others.

My plan was to bring my homemade cargo bike which, at 79 and 15/16” long, would have fit right in at Maker Faire but also drawn a lot of scrutiny by the Caltrain conductor. In the end I brought South Norwalk - which was good because it was standing room only on the train from Mountain View to Hillsdale.  


The first five minutes at Maker Faire was worth the admissions price. The list of things that create awe and provide inspiration is a long one. In the first five minutes I saw power tool drag racing, pedal and electric powered cupcakes milling about, and a guy being pulled on a chariot by a robot (which I posted yesterday). 

I was also drawn to the Frankentrikes booth.


It was there I met a talented artist named Segue, who created Frankentrikes years ago.  We chatted about MIG vs. TIG welding and related topics while I learned her backstory: Based in Oakland, she has made several electric assist trikes as custom builds but now wants to move Frankentrikes to a business model that would put more people on these things. 

I got to ride her original creation which reminded me of the rickshaws I’ve seen in India and in Singapore. She claimed it can carry 500 pounds in the cargo hold and the way it was made told me she wasn’t lying. 


The canopy gave me shade, the electric assist (powered by a twist throttle) gave me power, and the trike was surprisingly maneuverable without feeling cumbersome. It felt like she finished making it ten minutes before I walked up. 

It made me wonder about how much technology has evolved since then - but how little we have evolved.  Think about it for a minute: flip phones were common when Segue set down her welding mask when this first trike was completed but anyone seen with a flip phone now is stared at and puzzled over. 

And yet we drive on highways designed seventy or more years ago in vehicles that rely on a technology first created well over a century ago and think to ourselves: “Oh, I think we can stick with this. I need a 3,300 pound vehicle that has a 150 s.f. footprint to pick up my 85-pound child and I won’t connect any dots between my kid’s asthma inhaler and the stuff that comes out of my SUV’s tailpipe.”


Frankentrikes has an Indiegogo campaign so Segue can employ engineers and pay for other things to grow her company. The campaign ends on May 26th, which is this Thursday. Save for an unexpected asteroid or the like, that day will come and go like any other, but we have a chance to make that day bring us closer to a world where people - especially those in cities - can more easily choose ‘not car’ when it comes to everyday travel. 


So I urge you to donate to the Frankentrikes Indiegogo campaign and get your friends to do the same. If that laughing chewbacca mask lady can get 1.5 million+ hits on YouTube, this campaign can raise $49,000.

I thank Segue and the others I met at Maker Faire for doing their part to inspire makers of all ages. If there is a Maker Faire near you, I hope you can go. If you see a Frankentrikes cycle on the road, I hope you decided to be one of the backers who put it there. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Welcome to San Jose, Bernie! Let's Go Biking!


I just learned from the San Jose Mercury News that Bernie Sanders is doing a rally tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1pm at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in Tully Road.

Bernie, if you are reading this, please answer my #BikeWithTheNextPresident invite and beat Hillary and Donald to a photo-op goldmine and an inspiring message to all voters. I'd also love to talk transportation policy with you. I have tea, coffee, bananas and Clif granola bars  at my house which is conveniently close to your rally. Your people don't have to talk to my people - your people can just talk to me. My people have the day off

Also for the rally attendees: the SCCF is easily bikeable so I will use those Thirteen Words: If you have a bike and can ride it safely, please ride it.

If you're biking you can head south on Monterrey Boulevard and take a left on Tully (both roads are very busy but have bike lanes) or come via bike and VTA by getting off the Alum Rock/Santa Teresa light rail at Curtner and just follow Curtner all the way.

If coming from the south, you can use Monterrey Boulevard or the Coyote Creek Trail to get to Tully.


I'm not sure what the bike parking situation will be there but will add more if I find anything out. Use the hashtag #BernieByBike to talk with other cycling friends and encourage them to ride as well. And if you see Bernie, tell him you want to see him on a bike - preferably a DIYBIKING.COM exclusive.

Have fun at the rally. #FeelTheBern - Save on Parking. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bay Area Bike to Work Day

Bay Area Bike to Work Day began at sunup. It went well until I parked in a loading zone.


As you know, I am a telecommuter. 

However, phase two of Bike to Work Day involved boarding my adored VTA light rail. It's pronounced Veetee-ay and I'd write a song about it if that rhymed - and If I had talent.


Then it was a meet-up at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coaition, the VTA, the mayor and a whole lot of other cool people for a ride up the Guadalupe River Trail.



It was when I took this shot that a thought struck me about biking to work vs. driving: you can choose to surround yourself with a leather, steel and glass room that loses value over time, or you could surround yourself with friends that will gain value over time.


I also got to visit some great energizer stations. And I must say this about Oracle: you are a staple of Silicon Valley and a leader in cloud applications. But you also run a spectacular energizer station.

I returned home to work from my home office for a while before the day was done. This meant phase three of Bike to Work Day: going to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition's Bike Away From Work Bash.


I brought my homemade cargo bike so as not to confuse the valet. But I didn't have to worry: every bike was different and the assortment did well to show off the diversity of the people who bike to work. Old friends met. New ones made.

Phase four of bike to work day: thanking the people who rode to work for the first time. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: you've taken your first step into a larger world.

I will put up links tomorrow but tonight I have put away the sign from the sign bike. I peeled off the '2' and stowed it with the proper labels so this will be easier to make next year. Thank everybody for making this Bay Area Bike to Work Day possible. National BTWD is the 20th so I hope you take part for any reason. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.



 


Bay Area Bike to Work Day

Bay Area Bike to Work Day began at sunup. It went well until I parked in a loading zone.


As you know, I am a telecommuter. 

However, phase two of Bike to Work Day involved boarding my adores VTA light rail. It's pronounced Veetee-ay and I'd write a song about it if that rhymed and I had talent.


Then it as a meet-up at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coaition, the VTA, the mayor and a whole lot of other cool people for a ride up the Guadalupe River Trail.



It was when I took this shot that a thought struck me about biking to work vs. driving: you can choose to surround yourself with a leather, steel and glass room that loses value over time, or you could surround yourself with friends that will gain value over time.


I also got to visit some great energizer stations. And I must say this about Oracle: you are a staple of Silicon Valley and a leader in cloud computing. But you also run a spectacular energizer station.

I returned home to work from my home office for a while before the day was done. This meant phase three of Bike to Work Day: going to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition's Bike Away From Work Bash.


I brought my homemade cargo bike so as not to confuse the valet. But I didn't have to worry: every bike was different and the assortment did well to show off the diversity of the people who bike to work. Old friends met. New ones made.

Phase four of bike to work day: thanking the people who rode to work for the first time. In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi: you've taken your first step into a larger world.

I will put up links tomorrow but tonight I have put away the sign from the sign bike. I peeled off the '2' and stowed it with the proper labels so this will be easier to make next year. Thank everybody for making this Bay Area Bike to Work Day possible. National BTWD is the 20th so I hope you take part for any reason. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.