06/10/16

Seeking new board members

We’re looking for great volunteers to serve as board members.

BFFW’s mission is to educate and advocate to make Fort Worth a better place to ride bicycles. If you are passionate about promoting bicycling in Fort Worth and have time and skills to share for the cause, let us know!

BFFW meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the Near Southside. We also periodically have events that board members help run or attend, and we expect board members to participate in those events regularly. Terms are two years and end in the calendar year.

We specifically need people who have skills and/or interest in marketing and communications, managing finances, working with children and educating adults in bike skills. We’re also looking to diversify our board in regards to location. Let us know what makes you unique and what you can bring to our board.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, send us an email telling us about yourself, why you’d be interested in joining the board and what skills you can bring to the organization. Please also let us know that you understand the expected time commitment of serving on the board.

Email us at bikefriendlyfw@gmail.com. We’re happy to answer any questions, too.

05/27/16

Meet our board members: Elisabet Westbye

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1. What made you want to join Bike Friendly Fort Worth?

I want to ease the tension that I perceive between drivers and cyclists. From what I’ve observed, the bad behavior goes both ways. I think there is a place for everyone on the road, and we all have the right to arrive at our destinations safely. BFFW’s mission and values are in line with what I think it would take to make that a reality rather than just a dream.

2. When and why did you start cycling?

I’ve been riding since I was five years old. My bicycle has always been an instrument of freedom. When I was a kid, it would carry me away from home. Now, it frees me from having to work a second job to pay for and maintain a car. Instead, I get to spend that time with those I love and doing the things I love. Selling my car four years ago was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have met some amazing people while riding my bike. I appreciate how it forces you to slow down and see what is going on around you. It’s much easier to meet and chat with your neighbors when you’re not flying by in a giant metal box.

3. How have your riding habits changed since then?

My riding habits haven’t really changed since I first started riding. I have become more cautious with age, but that is probably normal. I’m fortunate that my father was well trained in urban cycling as a child in Norway, and he taught me to ride the same way.

4. What’s your favorite cycling memory?

My favorite memories as a kid are riding my bike through neighborhoods and on the trails, in Salt Lake City and then in Fort Worth, with my younger brother and sister. I rode a blue 1980 Schwinn World Tourist three-speed with a step-through frame, complete with fenders, and a rear rack. Oh, how I loved that bicycle. Other kids had newer, faster bikes, but even then, I was more interested in cruising around and being able to carry stuff. Our father made sure we knew how to fix a flat, so we didn’t worry about venturing too far from home. I dreamed of exploring the world on my bicycle. The only limit was how far my legs could take me. We spent most of the summer on our bicycles, carrying backpacks stuffed with water bottles, peanut butter sandwiches, and apples. We would lunch in the woods and parks alongside the trails, climb trees, catch frogs in the creek, and occasionally ride our bikes through the culverts (shhh, don’t tell my mother). It was glorious.

5. What area of Fort Worth do you feel needs the most attention with bike infrastructure?

I would love to see more cycle tracks and bike lanes in addition to signage reminding drivers that cyclists have a place on the road even when there isn’t striping for them. There seems to be a lack of understanding, in general, as to what the rights and responsibilities of cyclists are.
In my dream world, there would also be a ban on cell phone use while driving. I realize this isn’t infrastructure per se, but distracted drivers undermine the safety of even the best-planned infrastructure.

6. What does a bike-friendly Fort Worth actually look like?

A bike-friendly Fort Worth would be a place where people could travel safely and un-harassed to and from their destinations, regardless of transit mode selected. Sometimes I feel like a need a sign on my back that says, “Please be kind. I’m trying to get home to my kids too.”

7. What’s the best advice you can give to someone that doesn’t bike but would like to start?

Start slow. Don’t expect to be able to or be comfortable with riding all over town without practice. Once you are comfortable riding five miles or so, on your own, find a group to join. There are many different kinds of cycling groups in Fort Worth. Besides being fun, you can learn a lot about routes and techniques by riding with other people.

05/26/16

Meet our board members: Ruben Rios Jr.

Ruben Rios

Ruben pictured on the right

1. What made you want to join BFFW?

The need for a suitable cycling infrastructure to be laid out in Fort Worth and [because of] the absence of education regarding cycling on roads and thoroughfares. Growing up in my neighborhood, one quickly becomes aware that there is an absence of a dissemination of information regarding how to properly share the road with cyclists. I think that riding in Fort Worth should be reasonably safe for people of all ages.

2. When and why did you start cycling?

One could say that we began “cycling” in elementary school through the mean streets of North Side, when we once thought that venturing as far as the zoo through the Trinity Trails was a long ways away. But I didn’t seriously begin cycling until I was in college. First, it began as a yearning to live an old memory; I was full of nostalgia and enjoyed the fun. I then began to enjoy it for long treks and fully began realizing the benefits of cycling and what it could bestow on society.

3. How have your riding habits changed since then?

My riding habits have changed immensely. Some say that the older you get, the wiser you get. Learning to respect the laws equals safety and learning to mitigate harm to yourself and others by knowing the proper way to share the roads or by using the proper equipment, etc. is a must. This applies to both cyclists and motorists.

4. What’s your favorite cycling memory?

Probably the first time that I actually set out to ride in a downtown urban sprawl area. I had become accustomed to riding trails and paths that hid from urban centers filled with city dwellers. But I distinctly remember actually falling in love with the city because I could hear all the sounds, smell all of its scents, and I took the time to admire all of the beautiful facades of each building in this area. None of this was entirely possible through riding in an enclosed mode of transportation. It became almost like an addiction, I had to keep nurturing my curiosity by doing more on my bicycle.

5. What area of Fort Worth do you feel needs the most attention with bike infrastructure?

There are a lot of roads in north and south Fort Worth that could use some work in the form of repaving and leveling the streets. Proper lighting and bicycle lanes in these areas are much needed. I would love to see more businesses become engaged by providing bicycle racks to secure one’s bicycle.

6. What does a bike-friendly Fort Worth actually look like?

A true bike-friendly Fort Worth would have all of its citizens well-informed on the laws regarding sharing roads with fellow cyclists. It would have the necessary bike infrastructure that would allow citizens to get from one end of the city to the other on a bicycle without having to go around obstacles to cross. It would mean that our next generation is fairly informed on the proper use of a bicycle. Also, it would mean that our Fort Worth elected officials and city government would have cyclists and bike infrastructure as a priority on their list of things.

7. What’s the best advice you can give to someone that doesn’t bike but would like to start?

Don’t be afraid to get back on the saddle! Biking is fun and it’s great to start off again with a couple of friends who share your enthusiasm. I’ve had a lot of friends start off on a Bike Share B-cycle. It seems to be a good way to get to know a bike and to cruise through your city’s streets.

05/23/16

Bike Maintenance 101 | Part 2: Your Chain

By Nicky Stevens

Understanding the parts of your chain makes it easier to understand proper maintenance. Not properly lubricating you chain— whether that’s too much, not enough or the wrong type of lube — will shorten its life and cause premature wear on your cassette and chainrings. Your chain is made up of four basic parts: inner plates, outer plates, pins and rollers.

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Photo credit: thebicyclechain.com

Why is it important to lube my chain?

There are lots of moving parts in your chain. Without lubrication, those parts will wear, cause noise and eventually seize up. The spacing between the rollers exactly matches the spacing between the teeth of your gears. If the rollers are not lubricated or if they’re too dirty, they will wear on the inside. This is typically called chain stretch because it increases the space between the rollers. Chain stretch will, in turn, wear out the spacing between the teeth on your gears causing your chain to skip or jump under load. Once it has reached that point, you’ll most likely have to replace the cassette before you can replace the chain. Measuring your chain wear regularly, or having regular tune-ups at your favorite local bike shop (LBS), will let you know when it’s time to replace your chain before it has caused any other damage.

Below is one of the more basic chain wear indicators. If you buy one at your LBS, they will gladly show you how to use it properly.

Parktool

Lubrication and what type to use

The chain lube display at your bike shop can be intimidating. Not only are there a number of different brands, there are several different types of lube, as well. Each type is designed for a specific environment. If you’re a “fair weather rider,” you can probably find just one lube that works well for you, but if you ride all year in all conditions, you may decide to change from one type to another depending on the current climate. The two most common types of lube available today are wet lubes and dry lubes.

Wet lube: A wet lube is probably exactly what you think of when you hear the word. It’s a liquid lubricant, usually petroleum-based but sometimes plant-based. There are different viscosities, as well, some thicker and some thinner. Wet lubes are intended primarily for a moist environment. The thicker the lubricant, the better it will stay on your chain in the rain. The down side to a wet lube is that it attracts dust and dirt, which act like sandpaper inside your chain, accelerating wear. Our local climate changes so much that there is no perfect all year lubricant, but I have personally had good results with a thin wet lube most of the year, as long as you are willing to clean and reapply regularly.

Dry lube: Dry lubes are usually some sort of wax or synthetic particulate in a liquid carrier designed to evaporate quickly. You apply it wet, work it into the chain, then allow it to dry leaving behind only the dry lubricant. A dry lubricant is preferred in dry, dusty environments (like our summers on the Trinity Trails!) because they will not collect dust or dirt like a wet lube. The down side is that they wash away easily if you get caught in the rain or have to make a river crossing while mountain biking. While Bike Friendly Fort Worth does not officially indorse any one LBS or product, I have personally been very happy commuting and mountain biking using a locally sourced product called Smooth Operator Premium Lubricant for over a year now.

WD-40 IS NOT CHAIN LUBE! I can’t stress this enough. It works great as a cleaner, penetrating fluid or to arrest rust, but don’t try to lube your chain with it (unless it’s WD-40 brand chain lube; that’s different). It attracts dust worse than most wet lubes, wears off very quickly and blocks actual lubricant from getting to where it needs to be. If you need to use in on your chain for some reason, clean it off with a solvent afterwards and allow your chain to dry completely before applying lubricant.

How to apply chain lube

You should start with a clean chain. If you’ve been using a dry lube, typically knocking off any dirt or dust from the surface with a dry, stiff bristled brush is sufficient. If you use a wet lube, you will probably want to use a solvent cleaner to flush out any dirt or debris that could be stuck inside the chain. Be mindful of disc brakes, rims, and tires, which could be affected by overspray. There are lots of products for this at your LBS, and they can help you find the one that’s best for your needs.

Now that your chain is clean, spin it around to an identifying mark like a masterlink, or put a dot on it with a marker. Work your way around the chain applying one drop on each roller as you go. Once you’ve gone all the way around, spin your cranks for a minute to insure the lubricant has worked its way into all the necessary places. If you’re using a dry lube, let it to dry for about 10 minutes. Now go back with a lint-free rag and thoroughly wipe any excess lube from the outer surfaces of the chain. Excess lubricant will only make your chain dirty. The only place you want lubricant is between the moving parts.

Here’s a good video from Smooth Operator on proper application:

“Too much! You took too much!”

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Using too much lubricant is almost as bad as not using any. Excess lubricant will create a thick, black, gunky residue as it picks up dirt, dust and road grime. This black gunk will wear at your chain like sandpaper, gunk up your derailleur creating drag and shifting issues, and make a huge mess any time you need to remove your wheel or pick up a dropped chain. If your chain looks like this, or worse, you may need to remove it from your bike to give it a proper cleaning or put it in the hands of a professional.

This is Part 2 n a three-part series on bike maintenance. Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll discuss brakes and shifting. 

05/20/16

A morning ride with the mayor on Bike to Work Day

By Julissa Treviño

At 7:20 a.m., I was running late to the B-Share station. It was earlier than my normal commute, but I planned to ride with Mayor Betsy Price from Magnolia and Lipscomb to the Intermodal Transportation Center downtown on the Bike to Work Day route. On Forest Park and Park Hill Drive, I put my purse and bag (which had my makeup bag and another pair of shoes) in the baskets and off I went. The bike share bikes are heavier than what I’m used to, the gearing is interesting, and I felt like I got to my destination slower than usual, but you can’t beat the convenience of picking up a bike two blocks from home and dropping it off a block from work.

I arrived on Magnolia sweaty and wide awake. Mayor Price was already there, with about 15 other cyclists, including some bike friends. FitWorth and NTCOG were there — passing out water bottles, front and rear lights, and other accessories. With a 7:45 a.m. rollout, it didn’t take long before we were off again, down Magnolia to Jennings and then Lancaster to Jones. We got some friendly waves and hellos along the way. It was a quick and easy ride, thanks to the Fort Worth police bike patrol who blocked traffic. And it was also a great route for visibility. Lancaster can get busy this time of day with commuters headed into downtown for work, so it was good to get out where drivers could see us.

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Of course, I wish there had been more cyclists at the Bike to Work Day event. But I’m reminded that we live in a city where our mayor participates in the cycling community and sees the value in bike commuting. And every day, it feels like there are more cyclists out there, either on their own bikes or on bike share. That’s encouraging; I’m excited to see where we go from here.

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05/19/16

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day

You can still join us for Bike to Work Day tomorrow by leading a route from your neighborhood to your workplace. If you have no time to organize a route for others to join, just grab your bike and go.

Remember that if you’re riding from the Near Southside to downtown, there’s already a route you can join! A ride with the mayor will take off at 7:45 a.m. from the bike share station at Magnolia and Lipscomb to Intermodal Transportation Center downtown. More information is available at fortworthtexas.gov/biketowork.

Don’t have a bike?

Fort Worth Bike Sharing will offer half-off 24-hr memberships ($4 instead of $8). Use the promo code 052016 to redeem the discount. Remember to dock the bike every 30 minutes or usage fees will apply. See bike share locations here.

And whether you’re riding in a group or by yourself, remember to tag your pals at Bike Friendly Fort Worth on Facebook and Twitter when you share photos! We’d love to see everyone out on their bikes tomorrow.

05/17/16

Serving on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission

By Christina Sebastian

Along with two other Bike Friendly board members, I serve on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission, created by the Fort Worth City Council in March 2015. The commission is made up of nine members total — one representative from each council district.

As a new commission, the city seems to still be defining what our exact responsibilities are, but so far, we have been asked to provide recommendations on facilities, recommend programs or studies for the general budget, and bring up issues that we would like to hear more about as a commission. The commission was recently asked to provide a recommendation for on-street bicycle facilities for Carroll Street near West 7th; the commission recommended on-street bike lanes in lieu of a very-short (3 or 4 blocks) two-way cycle-track.

Citizens are allowed to speak about issues important to them at the end of each meeting; be aware that our meetings tend to run long, with us being forced to leave our meeting space at 8 p.m. The schedule has been set up to meet quarterly, but we’ve realized that we have more to discuss than that allows, so we recently asked to make that six times a year instead.

Personally, serving on the commission has been a great opportunity to get more connected with my city, better understand how Fort Worth operates, and (hopefully) provide an additional perspective on city issues. I’ve also appreciated hearing from the diverse members of our commission and getting their input on issues that may not be on my mind. I am looking forward to providing input on future bicycle and pedestrian-related facilities and programs and seeing the commission help Fort Worth receive a Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists.

Find out more about PABAC here. The next scheduled meeting is 5:30 p.m. June 9, at the Fort Worth Central Library, 500 W. 3rd Ave. Meetings are open to the public.

05/16/16

Meet our board members: Gerardo Contreras

Gerardo

Photo credit: Brian Carroll

1. What made you want to join Bike Friendly Fort Worth?

What made me want to join BFFW was my love for Fort Worth and cycling. I also did it because I saw a need to have someone on BFFW that would represent the northside community.

2. When and why did you start cycling?

I started riding in the summer of 2013 on the Fort Worth Bike Share system with a close group of friends for fun. We would meet up every weekend for rides around the city and hit up the Trinity Trails as well.

3. How have your riding habits changed since then?

The only change I have done to my riding habits is being more aware of safety, making sure I have lights and wearing a helmet. I have learned a lot from the trainings that BFFW has provided me like following the rules of the road and being more aware of my surroundings.

4. What’s your favorite cycling memory?

My favorite cycling memory has been the Taqueria Rides that Ride or Die FW has hosted the last two years (2015 and 2016). You can’t go wrong with tacos and bikes! It’s also a great way to support local taco shops and the local community. This past year there was a piñata at the last stop of the ride.

5. Which area of Fort Worth do you feel needs the most attention with bike infrastructure?

I’d like to see more bike lanes around schools to encourage kids at a younger age to get into cycling. I’d also like to see a connection to TCC Northwest.

6. What does a bike-friendly Fort Worth actually look like?

What a bike-friendly Fort Worth looks like to me is a local community of people getting together to figure out how we can make Fort Worth a more friendly and enjoyable riding city.

7. What’s the best advice you can give to someone that doesn’t bike but would like to start?

The best advice I can give you is to be confident about your ability to ride a bike and, most of all, have fun. Being aware of your surroundings and being safe is also important. The most fun way to start is to jump on the Fort Worth Bike Share system and explore what our beautiful city has to offer. RIDE OR DIE!

05/15/16

Bike rides to join this week

Ride of Silence 
6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Park

The Ride of Silence is an annual, worldwide event to honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roads. The ride will be held in complete silence, using only arm signals to communicate. The group will ride 8-12 mile at about 12 mph. Meet up at 6:30 p.m., roll out at 7. Helmets are required for this ride. Wear a black armband in solidarity of lost cyclists. If you have been injured by a vehicle, please wear a red armband.

Event details here.

Bike to Work Day 
Friday 

As we’ve outlined in a previous post, you can organize your own Bike to Work Day ride.

Work with your employer to lead a ride to your workplace and encourage your coworkers to join you. If you need help finding a safe route to work, email us at bikefriendlyfw@gmail.com. We can help you come up with the best route for you and your coworkers.

For Near Southsiders: Therre’s already a route you can join! A ride with the mayor will take off at 7:45 a.m. from the bike share station at Magnolia and Lipscomb to Intermodal Transportation Center downtown.

For those interested in volunteering: We’re still looking for people to hand out fresh fruit and water bottles 7:15-9 a.m. at several booths. The city of Fort Worth will provide the supplies. Email us to let us know you want to help.

More information is available at fortworthtexas.gov/biketowork.

05/14/16

Bike Maintenance 101 | Part 1: Identify the problem

By Nicky Stevens

Basic bicycle maintenance isn’t difficult, and it will make your ride easier and greatly extend the life of your components. Simple things like a properly lubricated chain and keeping your derailleurs adjusted avoid wear that lead to replacing components early, which can be expensive.

Coupling basic maintenance with regular tune-ups at the local bike shop will insure that you spend more time enjoying the ride and less time fighting your bike. Today we’ll talk about a few indications that your bike needs maintenance and cover the how-tos in the next post. If you don’t know all of the jargon, stay tuned for an explanation in Part 2.

Courtesy of www.whycycle.co.uk.

Courtesy of www.whycycle.co.uk.

What are some signs that my bike needs maintenance?

Did you hear that? I did… from 15 feet behind you on the trail! It’s your bike telling you something. I’ve found that my ears are often the first to pick up on maintenance needs. A properly tuned bike should be nearly silent while pedaling. What about when you take your bike off the rack? Did you hear a “thunk” as it hit the ground? That is another indication you should listen for.  

Here are a few common sounds and what they could mean (there are always exceptions).

  • “Chirps” like a flock of tiny birds near your back wheel. This typically means your chain is in dire need of lubrication. Lack of lubrication on your chain not only adds resistance to pedaling, but it also causes premature wear to the chain, cassette and chain rings.
  • A “clickity, clickity, clickity …” after shifting, as the chain moves from one gear to the next. If it makes this sound for more than about one second, your bike may not be shifting properly. Improper shifting can be caused by being out of adjustment, worn or damaged cables and/or housing, a misaligned derailleur hanger, or just worn out components like the chain, derailleur or shifter. Allowing this to go unresolved will also cause expensive wear over time.
  • If you have disc brakes, a loud squealing, especially when braking. A lot of entry level bikes come with mechanical disc brakes, as opposed to hydraulics. While some disc brakes squeal no matter what, a lot of the time it’s just an adjustment issue with mechanicals.
  • A “creak creak creak” like walking on an old wooden floor? This is commonly the bottom bracket but could also be the cranks or cassette. All of those adjustments require specialty tools that most people don’t have at home, but this should be addressed sooner than later.

Now lift your bike so that the wheels are 2-3 inches from the ground and drop it (but don’t let it fall over!). Did you hear an audible “thunk”, separate from the higher pitched sound of the chain possibly slapping the frame? If you did, this could be an indication of a loose headset, or a loose hub on one or both wheels. Both of those components are designed to have pressure evenly distributed along a bearing race, and too much play can create damage beyond repair.

But what about the feels? Things you can feel are typically more obvious while riding.

  • When you brake, does the brake lever come closer than a thumb’s width from the grip? This is a clear indication that you need to adjust your brakes. It is typically caused from housing compression and/or worn brake pads, and it’s pretty easy for even the novice to correct.
  • When braking, do you feel a pulse in the brake lever? This could be a wheel that’s out of true or a rim that’s bent. Wheels are expensive, but addressing small problems early can extend their life.
  • When braking or shifting, is the lever difficult to push or pull? With the exception of a front derailleur (which typically requires more force to shift), your brake and shift levers should be fairly easy to move. If there’s extra drag it could indicate worn or damaged cables/housing or a gummed up derailleur. Most of the moving parts in a shifter are plastic and not replaceable, and this added force can dramatically shorten their life span.

Now that you’ve got a lot to think about, it’s time to go for a ride!

Go out to one of the lesser used stretches of the Trinity Trail to avoid other noise and distractions and allow yourself to focus your attention on the bike. Glance over this list before and after your ride, and try to think about different aspects of your bike while riding. Bring a notepad and jot down any noises or feels that seem out of the ordinary while they’re still fresh on your mind.

This is the first in a three-part series on bike maintenance. Check back in for Parts 2 and 3 for a follow up on how to make the needed adjustments (or when to take it to the shop).