From Bush to Bike

BBC News has a story on the use of bamboo bikes in Africa:
From bush to bike – a bamboo revolution
A bamboo bicycle can take over a week to make by hand

By Kieron Humphrey

On the outskirts of Lusaka, Zambia, next year’s crop of bicycles is being watered by Benjamin Banda.
“We planted this bamboo last year,” he says, “and now the stems are taller than me. When it’s ready we’ll cut it, cure it and then turn it into frames.”
Mr Banda, is the caretaker for Zambikes, a company set up by two Californians and two Zambians which aimed to build bikes tough enough to handle the local terrain.
Co-founder Vaughn Spethmann, 24, recalls how it all started with a game of football.

Read the rest of the article here.

Bicycle Film Festival rolls on to Pittsburgh

This week the bicycle film festival hits its next stop…the industrial town of Pittsburgh PA.
Picture 4

Home to this year’s Stanley Cup Winners:
Picture 6

and it has a thriving bicycle scene which is often illustrated in the pages of Urban Velo magazine.

I had a brief chat with Jeff Guerrero who along with Brad Quartuccio, not only run Urban Velo’s magazine and blog, but are hosting the BFF in their hometown.


Name age and where you live (ride)

I’m Jeff Guerrero, 34, and live and ride in Pittsburgh, PA.

What bikes do you own?

I own about 10 bikes, and I’ve got a couple on loan from Salsa and Redline.

What will be your next bike purchase?

Honestly, I’ve got enough bikes for the time being. If I buy anything in the near future, it will be parts to build bikes for my less-fortunate friends.

What’s the bike culture like in Pittsburgh? (I know that’s a complicated one…just a general overview)

Pittsburgh’s got a surprisingly rich bike culture. Surprising, that is, only if you don’t live here. It’s a tough town with a blue-collar mentality and terrain that makes cycling both difficult and rewarding. If you haven’t heard, we’ve got a lot of hills, and the roads are usually pretty narrow. Being that we’re not a wealthy city, a lot of the roads are in bad shape and there aren’t a whole lot of cycling amenities like bike lanes and pedestrian bridges. We’re working on that, though.

On the bright side, there are lots of great people on bikes here. When the bicycle co-op throws a party, hundreds of bike punks come out of the woodwork. The mountain bike scene is pretty impressive, and the road racing culture is simply legendary. You ever heard of the Dirty Dozen? The Million Mile Man? We don’t have a velodrome, but we’ve got a bike track where they host crits twice a week, and every other Friday there’s track bike racing. And we’ve got about a dozen great bike shops, especially Iron City Bikes and Kraynick’s.

Has Pittsburgh had a BFF? What is planned?

I’m really excited to be screening the films at the Andy Warhol Museum. That place is amazing. Not only are they a world-renowned museum, they’ve been incredibly kind to us. It makes sense, though, since half the people that work there are cyclists (or so it seems). We’ll be hosting roller races at Pittsburgh’s only bicycle-themed bar, and then a big afterparty at one of the coolest art spaces in the city. Finally, we’ll be wrapping things up on July 4th with a bike polo tournament and BYOP (bring your own picnic), followed by a group ride to watch the fireworks.

Who will be coming to the festival? Will you see new faces?

I know we’ll be seeing our friends from Cleveland, Dayton and Lexington because of the polo tournament. I think we’ll see other people from the rest of Western Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, because the festival has never been in this vicinity before.

Are their any local films?

Unfortunately, no. But I think people will identify with a lot of the films as though they were. The story of FBM bikes will strike a chord with Pittsburgh’s working class (even though it’s from New York), and the short film “Ski Boys” will remind a lot of people of their rural Pennsylvania/Ohio roots (even though it’s from Canada).

What do you hope people will ride away from the BFF this year? How will it impact the biking community and culture in the area?

My biggest hope is that people within the community will be inspired to do more, and people from the fringes of the bike community will become more involved. I’m surprised there aren’t more people building bike frames in Pittsburgh, or putting on more unique events. I think that kind of thing is cause and effect, like the way bike culture continues to evolve in places like Brooklyn, because it’s constantly on display.

Whats it like to ride a bike in Pittsburgh? Is their infrastructure? Has the city been responsive to the rise in popularity of cycling? What needs improving the most?

It can be pretty tough, as I said earlier. We’re working on better cycling infrastructure, and we’ve even hired a bike/ped coordinator to make things happen. In recent years we’ve opened a couple bike lanes, painted sharrows here and there and remodeled an unused railroad bridge into a pedestrian bridge. There are three bike paths that are incredibly useful if you happen to be going in those directions, and if BikePGH (the local advocacy organization) have their way, we’ll have a few more that “connect the dots” and make cycling a viable option to those who aren’t as comfortable or competent riding in traffic.

Is there Critical Mass in Pittsburgh? Whats the level of Car vs Cyclist perspectives in general?

Yes, last Friday of every month… Meet at the dinosaur in Oakland at 5:30.

People are people no matter where you go—some are rude, some are ignorant, some are respectful and some are friendly. I think Pittsburgh drivers just need more official reminders to share the road, and then we’ll be in good shape. Drivers are getting used to seeing more bikes on the road, and that’s leading to a little more courtesy, or at least an increased awareness.

What is Urban Velo?

Urban Velo is the magazine Brad Quartuccio and I started a little more than two years ago. It’s our take on what a magazine for city cyclists should be. We focus on the people and the culture, not so much on the consumer end of things. Of course that kind of stuff is essential, so we cover a lot of that on our blog, which is updated daily (often several times a day).

Urban Velo and the BFF get around all over the world, What has been your greatest traveling experience on a bike?

I’ve been pretty lucky… Most of my travels have been for mountain biking, and I have a special place in my heart for Southwest Utah. One of the greatest bike trips I ever took was to Negril, Jamaica. We rode around town on full-suspension mountain bikes, and they were totally appropriate for the road conditions. I’ve ridden in the Alps on the French/Swiss border, and it was unbelievable. Though we were riding mountain bikes and taking chair lifts, I got to ride a short portion of the Tour de France (Les Gets to Morzine) every day that I was there.

As for urban cycling, I especially like NYC and Chicago. Philadelphia might be my favorite city to visit, though. At the same time, I haven’t been to a lot of the big “bike towns,” like Portland, for example. I’m looking forward to getting over to Japan someday, but that may be a while…

What’s in the future for Urban Velo?

We’re really just getting started. As the magazine grows, I hope it becomes sustainable and that I can dedicate even more time to it. I think there’s a lot of room for growth online, but I just haven’t had enough time to develop some of the ideas I have. We’re doing pretty well, though, for two guys with day jobs.

What are your future cycling goals?

Right now I’m just enjoying what I do. I ride for transportation and play bike polo. I haven’t done much mountain biking lately, and even less racing, but I’m fine with that. When I get the itch again I’ll scratch it. In the immediate future, I want to get more people into cycling. I would like to do more to help kids get into cycling for transportation in the city, and I’ve even got some ideas, but I don’t really have a lot of time between my day job (teaching art) and my duties with the magazine.

Anything you wished I’d ask you?

You should have asked me how much I love Michael Green’s writing and filmmaking. He’s AWESOME! Really, I appreciate what you do, Michael.
Events around the festival:


7:00 PM | Program 1 – Bike Shorts – BUY TICKETS
Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe – 2518 E Carson St

6:00 PM | Program 2 – Where Are You Go – Premiere – BUY TICKETS
8:00 PM | Program 3 – Urban Bike Shorts – BUY TICKETS
8:00 PM | AFTER PARTY – The Brew House – 2100 Mary St

aw…no you’re great…no you’re great…thanks for the kind words Jeff and good luck with the BFF.


Urban Velo 14 is out.

Everyone’s favorite Urban bicycle culture magazine is available for download.

Urban Velo #14 is now available online. Contents Include: The Fed – Hardcourt Bike Polo Considers Its Future, Crit Racing, Barcelona Tiene Poder, Windy City Wool, Safe Routes Revolution, KC Urban Cyclist Project, Stem Clamp Penny Trick, What’s in There? – Inside Conventional Freewheels, Looking Where You’ve Been, Love Riding in the City, Residue and No Exit.

Download it for free, or order a printed copy online.

Summer Streets is back in August with Dutch Bikes.

Last year’s successful Summer Streets NYC is coming back.
I got sent this announcement form NY400.

“This summer, New Yorkers can try out an original Dutch NY400
bike in the streets of Manhattan during Summer Streets and enjoy the
car-free streets from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way up to Central Park
on one of our bright orange bicycles!

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg announced the Summer Streets Program, a green
and sustainable transportation campaign designed to give New Yorkers a
chance to get out and enjoy their streets freely. On the first three
Saturdays of August, bicyclers and pedestrians get to rule the island,
as a 6.9 mile stretch of NYC’s streets will be closed to motorized

For more information and pictures of the Press conference go to:”

Time’s Up July events.

Here are July events from everyone’s favorite environmental bike activist group, Time’s Up.

Submit your Bicycle-Themed Artwork

We’re looking for unique artwork and graphics to illustrate our monthly print calendar. If you have any original drawings, doodles, computer graphics, paintings, etc. with a bicycle or environmental theme, please email them to

Reinventing the Wheel, and discussion with Steve McMaster of Time’s Up!
Thursday, July 9th, 6 p.m.
Atlantic Gallery, 135 West 29th Street

‘Reinventing the Wheel’ will begin with the moving and rarely screened experimental film ‘FIETSEN; (Cyclists 1965) by Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken as he observes cyclists (and other means of transport) in Amsterdam, moving over the bridges on the canals. A lively discussion about the road ahead will follow with a lively discussion with transit experts including Steve McMaster of Time’s Up! and representatives from the NYC Department of Transportation and Transportation Alternatives.

Time’s Up! is a 20-year-old nonprofit, grassroots environmental organization working to make New York City- and the world- a healthier and more sustainable place to live. All of our events and campaigns are free and open to the public- educational and fun bike rides, bike repair workshops, movie nights and presentations, community garden workdays and outreach, bike and public space advocacy and more.

–SUPPORT TIME’S UP! Environmental Organization today by making a tax-deductible donation or becoming a member at You can even donate real estate!

Time’s Up

Come join us for the rides, events and workshops listed below. Details follow the headlines.


Friday, July 3rd, 10 p.m.
Columbus Circle (SW corner of Central Park, at the intersection of Broadway, Central Park South 59th Street, and Central Park West)
Saturday, July 4th, 4:30 p.m.
Union Square North
Friday, July 10th, 7 p.m.
Grand Army Plaza, the northern entrance of Prospect Park where Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy, Union St. and Prospect Park West intersect and Brooklyn Side of the Williamsburg Bridge
Friday, July 10th, 9 p.m.
East River Bar, 97 South 6th Street, off Bedford Avenue
Friday, July 10th
7 p.m.- Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge
7:25- Carroll Street Drawbridge, Brooklyn (between Nevins and Bond)
7:50- 69th Street Pier, Brooklyn (Shore Parkway Bike Path Entrance)
Saturday, July 11th, 9 p.m.
Grand Army Plaza, the northern entrance of Prospect Park where Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy, Union St. and Prospect Park West intersect.
a.k.a. the Lower Manhattan Historic Ride
Saturday, July 11th, 10 p.m.
Manhattan Entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge (SW corner of Chambers and Centre St./Park Row)
** Now in NYC and Brooklyn! **
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday Workshops will be held at ABC No Rio which is located at 156 Rivington Street between Suffolk and Clinton Streets.
Wednesday and Sunday Workshops will be held at Time’s Up! Brooklyn which is located at 99 South 6th Street off Bedford Avenue


Become a member at

Michael Jackson Ride.

Last Friday, 6/26, we set out to the streets of Manhattan to celebrate Michael Jackson’s music with an impromptu Dance Bike ride organized by Time’s Up!. Dancing to Jackson tunes, played through the speakers mounted on the sound bike, we started the ride downtown with about 30 cyclists. The numbers kept growing as other cyclists and pedestrians, passing by, decided to join the fun. After dancing in Astor Cube, we walked our bikes so people on foot could continue on to Union Square where we ended the ride with hundreds of enthusiastic fans dancing to his classic songs, including Thriller, Billie Jean and Beat it. We kept dancing until the last bit of battery was left in the sound bike to belt out just a couple more, “beat it”s”

**Join Time’s Up! for another Michael Jackson Dance Ride on July 24, 2009**
See Time’s Up for more info

Michael Jacson Tribute Dance Ride 06.26.09 from Time's Up! on Vimeo.

Wednesday: Caption this Photo

Add your captions to the comments below.

4th of July, Bomb Broadway…NYC

july409(art work by Greg Ugalde)

more details to come.

Strange Days-STOP!

Today was a really strange one.
First I got this tweet from Prolly that some bicycle cops were ticketing people for riding brakeless fixed gears on the Williamsburg Bridge. I really hope this is just some random police fluke and not going to set off a wave of unwanted attention where we have to argue the efficiency and equal stopping power of the bikes we all love to ride.
Picture 2
This could lead to more useless legislation favoring the police to make money on tickets and we the bikers to be stopped and harassed.

According to bike hugger this “to brake or not to have a brake” situation eventually lead to a 2006 law being passed in Portland Oregon mandating that all fixed gear bikes needed to be equipped with hand brakes.

similar ordinances have been enforced in Berlin.

The cops stopping people in NYC, must have a lot to do with the horrible design of the bike path on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg bridge that dumps you right into the middle of two way speeding traffic. Instead of coming up with a better design, first they tried to put those speed bumps on the bridge which ended up injuring more bikers then controlling our speed. Then we fought and won to have those removed and now its a random sting operations with all kinds of bs stories like clocking our speeds on the bridge and parking police vans in the middle of the downward ramp.

What is a more efficient way to stop? Using your feet on a fixie or having to be stopped by the police to find out how you stop? OH STOP!

Thats right blame the type of bicycles we have. Its like blaming reckless driving on the fact that too many people have cars that can go over 150mph.

Speaking of not stopping and reckless driving…did you catch what happened in the East Village today?

This according to the NY Times.

9 people including an infant were injured by a speeding NYPD patrol car. Read the story here.

Hmmmm, maybe the police should be more concerned with controlling their own vehicles. Just saying.

And also, I got this email from local bicycle activist and advocate, Amanda Hickman.


I got jumped last night, riding on Franklin Ave, just before Willoughby.
There’s a schoolyard there, and always a few burned out streetlights. A
girl ran out into the street and was kind of dodging me and just as I
realized that I was probably in trouble, she called to her friends who
ran from between some parked cars. They tackled me, took my backpack
(from my basket, where I keep it because I carried a messenger bag for
too many years and my back is a mess now) and ran back into the school yard.

The thing I keep coming back to is the folks who came out to help me,
one of whom said several times that it happens “all the time” to
cyclists right there. I like to think of myself as pretty street smart
but I’ve never seen something like this. I’ve had kids try to chase me
on bikes of their own, but this three kid tackle move? WTF? I’m not even
sure what I could have done differently except maybe grab my bag myself
I guess.

I’m fine, I don’t actually own anything of value so most of what they
took they left under some stairs a block away, but I was really struck
by the “all the time” bit. Is this a thing?

These kids knew what they were doing.

I thought you might know. I thought you might be game to ask your
readers if you don’t.


Really sorry to hear that Amanda. Do others know of similar experiences in that area?

So maybe the NYPD, since they are so concerned with our safety, should Stop stopping us on the bridges and get over to these neighborhoods to stop the muggers from stopping the bikers.

Oops, I forgot to do Video Friday. So here is a bunch…

Normally every Friday I slap up a bunch of videos I find on the web. Well Tuesday is the new Friday right? Here you go with some office cubical time killers.

Mostly I raid the Fixed Gear blogs like: John Prolly.

Look, rail slides aren’t just for BMX and skateboards anymore and its a really good way to rack your nutz. Come on, you’ll need those for procreating and for even attempting some crazy shit like this.

MIKE CARNEY MPLS from vincent shim on Vimeo.

Speaking of not just for skaters anymore, McCarren Park Pool, once home to a whole series of concerts is now getting a skatepark and here is Prolly himself showing off with his pals some nice fixed gear tricks.

BFF09 Week Edit pt. 2 from John Prolly on Vimeo.

This was his edit of the Bicycle Film Festival Weekend.

Meanwhile, half way around the world, NYC’s top rider, Wonka is tore it up in Paris…

Gorilla in Paris Teaser 3/4 from GORILLa Bicycles. on Vimeo.

Wonka went out there to put to the grind, Gorilla Bicycles hand built in Italy by legendary frame builder Giovanni Pelizzoli creator of the Ciocc, (say like CHEE-OH-CH) but like say it really Italian like.

A video from Japan:

SHIBA FRIDAY6.26 from Fixy Life on Vimeo.

And an even more exotic location: Philadelphia…
Especially when its the Shark Fin Comp.

Shark Fin Trick Comp from Drew Leshko on Vimeo.

And Portland Oregon:

JFK All Day from matt shapiro on Vimeo.

Then heading over to for some videos form the Calshot Velodrome just south of England. I really like this helmet cam action.

Black Canon Collective – June ’09 Calshot Velodrome from Andrew Denham on Vimeo.

Then believe it or not I found some videos that are not fixed gear related:
Check out the Animal Mountain Bike team and how they get this farmer dude involved.

Now for some oldies:
Richmond Virginia, Slaughterama 6, for the world’s greatest tall bike joust-

Here is some insanely fast rollers:

and from the 2008, Bicycle Music Festival in San Francisco-
Remember to tip your bikers and your bartenders-