I wrote about how the cargo bike changed my life. The #1 game changer is how mundane car errands become joyful adventures. Whenever I can, I haul things by bike, and it’s become a game to see what new objects I can haul.
Here are some favorites. Photos 2016-2020.
Babies & Toddlers
Babies love the Yepp seat. They start off awake:
Then quickly doze off (don’t worry, he had his helmet on during the ride):
It’s stuck with me since I saw it in the Myrtle Beach airport in July. A young man wore a drawstring backpack printed with the slogan “imagine a world without oil and gas.” Under that it said, “IOGA WV”.
I first read this phrase the way I would if I had uttered it: as an aspirational call to imagine a world without oil and gas. Something like AOC’s “Message from the Future” or the Transition Handbook, whose featured blurb notes that “most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive)” [more on this later].
When a search for “IOGA WV” revealed it to be the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, I realized the phrase was meant differently. There aren’t many hits when you Google that sentence, but they mostly come from oil & gas interests. The phrase on the backpack is meant not as a serious call but as a statement of ridicule: life is unimaginable without oil and gas.
The phrase captured my imagination, in part because I’m amused by its Janus word nature: its two meanings are opposites. But also because in the way I first read it, it’s a succinct, elegant clarion call to dream as we must. In the effort to move beyond fossil fuels and preserve a habitable planet, it’s likely that our imagination, not technology, will be the limiting factor.
I don’t have hard data on this. Ann Arbor should collect this kind of data – Portland, OR has being doing bike counts since 1991. But I feel confident that the number of electric-assist bikes and cargo bikes on the road in Ann Arbor is growing rapidly.
Yesterday I parked in the excellent covered bike parking in the 4th and Washington structure and when I returned saw five e-bikes parked there:
Ann Arbor is a good town for an e-bike. It has some serious hills, which many people can’t or don’t wish to ride up while commuting. It has people with disposable income and environmental leanings who can be the early adopters. And we have two great stores for e-Bikes, Human Electric Hybrids and the newer Urban Rider (same ownership).
(Regarding one particular hill: the William Street Bikeway is slated to open this fall. This will be a veritable sales pitch for e-bikes, offering a safe and pleasant way to get to campus and downtown … to those riders who can surmount the steep, short climb up William from First to Ashley. Increase your assist level!)
Electric-assist bikes will grow in popularity here, becoming a critical part of how we move around in a world without abundant gasoline. (Even in a world with cheap gas they’re gaining steam, since they’re more fun, healthier, and cheaper than cars). E-bikes are already hugely popular in Europe and China, and while America has been slower to catch on, sales have nearly doubled annually in recent years. They’re the future.
I chatted with the owner of the Sondors bike (pictured above) as he locked up. He said he had been close to buying a moped but a friend talked him into buying an e-bike instead. He’s happy he did.
It’s a pleasure to watch e-bike numbers grow here in these early years of adoption.
A collaboration beer born from the local social network a2mi.social. George suggested a Black IPA; I had Centennial hops to use up so decided to brew “Black Hearted”, an improvised recipe loosely inspired by Bell’s Two-Hearted (though we also used a bunch of newer wave hops in addition to Centennial).
Easy brew day. For recent brews, I had the grain crushed at Adventures in Homebrewing and experienced a middling 70-75% brewhouse efficiency. Their mill is set to a cautious crush. For this brew, George crushed the grains quite fine and we fly sparged slooooowly, which I credit for the whopping 94% (!!) efficiency we experienced. (We did have a stuck mash but got out of it quickly). 94% is not out of the question: Kal, the creator of The Electric Brewery on which my system is modeled, claims to get a consistent 95% efficiency.