Category: Cities Page 1 of 6

A bike exploration exposing why stroads are so bad in North American cities

There’s a route in my city that I’ve hated for years. It’s bad to drive on. It’s bad to ride a bike on. It’s bad to walk on. But I never could really put my finger on why it was so loathsome until I read the new  @Strong Towns  book Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town by Chuck Marohn. Now I know why: This route is a stroad. So I decided to go a bicycle adventure all along the worst stroad in my city to really get to the heart of its awfulness.

Disconnected bike routes aren’t just annoying. They’re ruining our transportation potential

If your city is like mine, there have been many initiatives over the years to improve its bike-friendliness, from painted bike lanes to pathways to separated bike lanes. But if you’re city is really like mine then many of those routes remain islands unto themselves, disconnected from each other and untethered to a more comprehensive plan intended to help cyclists really get around the city. So after exploring these disconnections, I have a theory that there are four different types of disconnections that can be easily fixed to make our cities more bike-friendly.

Eight mistakes new bike commuters make that can be easily avoided

If, like me, you live in a city that is not very bike-friendly, bicycle commuting can sometimes be intimidating. But bike commuting is an amazing way to improve your life, so I thought I’d share a few tips I picked up over the years the hard way. Hopefully, this video will help you avoid some of the mistakes that I made.

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What’s better for running errands in a city: A car or a bike?

There’s an old argument that suggests bike lanes are bad for local businesses because only a car makes it convenient enough for people to make multiple stops at local businesses to spend their hard-earned money. So today I decided to put that dubious theory to the test. Here’s the scenario: I choose a route about six kilometers long, with three stops along the way. I run it on a bike. Then I run it in a car. I time both journeys with a stopwatch. Which urban vehicle to you think will be faster and more efficient?

Bike-friendly city showdown compares Amsterdam with Calgary

Amsterdam is probably the most bike-friendly city in the world. Calgary, Alberta, Canada has been making strides in bike friendliness for a few years, but how do the two cities really compare?

I’ve often wondered this, especially while watching the great videos from Amsterdam by Jason at  @Not Just Bikes . So I reached out to Jason with an idea of playing a game called Plus 1 Minus 2, with an urban cycling twist!

Here’s the idea: We both agreed to record a typical everyday ride, Jason in Amsterdam and me in Calgary. Then we swapped footage and scored each other’s cities – score one point for each thing that makes it easy to ride your bike for transportation, and remove two points for everything that makes it difficult. Then, we compare. I think it’s a really cool way of seeing how differently two cities can develop.

I haven’t seen Jason’s video and he hasn’t seen mine, so I’m really looking forward to seeing his perspective on this. Make sure to check out his video after you watch this one:

Is winter cycling the last bastion of anti-bike political grandstanding? Sigh.


The most important things your city can do to make it better for winter cycling

We often think of winter cycling as a personal thing, but there’s a lot a city can do to encourage more people to ride a bike year-round. Here are three things that a city can do to make bike commuting and transportation cycling easier in winter.

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Tom Babin is the author of Frostbike: The Joy, Pain and Numbness of Winter Cycling. 

Does your city hate you because you ride a bike? Mine kinda does

Do you ever have those moments on a bike when you feel like the city doesn’t really want you there? I decided to document some of those feelings on a recent ride.

Finding my way on a bike through the COVID-19 lockdown

I, like most of you, have been stuck at home for weeks now because of the COVID-19 lockdown, and I’m glad to be doing my part to help stop this virus.

But it hasn’t been easy. Being stuck home for weeks, frankly, sucks. But thankfully, I’ve still got my bike, and I still live in a jurisdiction where health officials are encouraging its use, as long as it’s being done while keeping appropriate distance from others to prevent the spread of the virus.

But riding a bike through a city these days is completely different than in the past. Here are the ways in which I’m trying to find my way through this crazy situation.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Follow Tom Babin on TwitterFacebookInstagram or Medium.

You can also follow Shifter on Facebook or Medium.

Tom Babin is the author of Frostbike: The Joy, Pain and Numbness of Winter Cycling. 

Five things North American cities can learn about cycling from Manila

While cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have adopted the bicycle as the future of transportation, it’s simply not the case for other places in the world. But there’s just as much to learn from those who lack as there is with those who prosper. So today, let’s take a look at the Philippine capital city of Manila.

As someone who bikes to work and has had to ride through EDSA (the capital’s busiest and most infamous highway) on a daily basis, believe me when I say that it wasn’t the leisurely ride that one would expect from the more developed areas of the world. Here, you’d be hard-pressed to find a portion of the metropolis that isn’t overcrowded. You’d think a city this congested would automatically resort to alternative means of transportation, and while Daydreaming in Paradise details that car sales have dropped for the first time in 7 years, Manila still has a long way to go. To its credit, the Philippines has taken a step in the right direction when it comes to making its cities more bike-friendly, so let’s see what lessons we can learn from Manila about cycling.

Manila isn’t not one of the world’s bike havens, but it has things to teach other cities. Photo by Christian Paul Del Rosario from Pexels.


Rappler reports that 1,127 people on bicycles died in crashes from 2005 to 2013, averaging to about 125 fatalities per year. As a response to this, the Philippines passed House Bill 8911, which mandates a 1.5-meter minimum overtaking distance from cyclists by motor vehicles in 2019.

Now consider how you may have taken safety for granted. Collisions happen all the time all over the world, and it can happen to you even in an environment that does its best to protect you. While you can’t control everything on the road, there are some things you can: Check your breaks, check on your tires, and most of all, remain alert at all times.

Bask in Nature

Because of the sub-optimal conditions afforded to cyclists in Manila, they’ve been forced to look for alternative spaces to scratch their cycling itch. For instance, the holiday town of Tagaytay is a two-hour car ride from Manila, and in it is one of the most breathtaking cycling trails in the world. The Twin Lakes Mountain Bike Trail is a 2.5 km that goes deep into a lush forest, all while giving you one of the best views of Taal Lake that you would have missed had you not gone on this trail.

Why not take your cycling away from the city once in a while? Go on a hike or a camping trip and bring your bike with you. While some cities are great for cycling, there’s just something about the great outdoors that cities will never be able to replicate.

Photo by Marfil Graganza Aquino from Pexels.

Ride on Sundays

In Manila, cycling is tantamount to a luxury. Some people set aside one day and head out to a trail or a park, and just take cycling as an opportunity to relax and unwind. Could you say that you’ve treated cycling the same way?

If you find yourself getting a little tired of cycling, why not try and view it as a treat? Use Sunday cycling as an opportunity to have fun instead of the usual slog that it may have turned into in your daily life.

Community Building

When things go awry and no one does anything about it, communities must rise to the occasion. This is what the National Bicycle Organization (NBO) is all about. The NBO organizes events and bicycle lessons in the Philippines in hopes of fostering a more bicycle-friendly city.

Remember that cycling doesn’t always have to be a solitary experience. Gather up some friends and take a ride together. What better way is there to build a community than a shared passion for cycling?

Remember why you do it

Considering how hard it is for cyclists in Manila, you’d have to wonder why anyone would still do it. Well, the short answer is: They like it. Despite all the hardships that cyclists go through, enthusiasts keep on and do it for the love of it.

You may have taken advantage of the experience of cycling, reducing it to nothing but a means to get from Point A to Point B. Think back to the times when you enjoyed doing it — this way, you may end up enjoying your daily rides more than usual.

Mandy Johnson has been a digital nomad long before the term became a buzzword for aspiring remote workers around the world. She spent four years living and working in the gridlocked traffic of beautiful Metro Manila, a daily puzzle that she sometimes solved with pedal power. When she’s not chasing after deadlines, she’s scouring the edges of the metro for new places to explore with her trusty mountain bike.

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