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Old 10-29-12, 09:53 PM   #1
Ozonation
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Best bike in an emergency-evacuation scenario?

The wide ranging impacts of hurricane Sandy got me thinking. I'm not in the impacted area, but on the fringe... yet even here, we can feel the wind. As I was bicycling before the weather turned for the worst, it got me thinking... if I had to evacuate, and assuming I had time to pack the car, what would be the best bike to take as an emergency form of transportation? I could put it on our bike rack and in the event of the car breaking down, or hitting an impassable road, at least I could continue on bike partway. Or if the roads proved impassable for evacuation via car, you could bike to the nearest shelter or muster point for mass evacuation later.

But what would be a good bike to have on hand then? I suppose anything that works well on two wheels is better than nothing, but I'm sure most of us have more than one bike for different purposes. What would be the scenarios you would typically face? My first thought would be something like my old hybrid: decent on roads and dirt, broken paths. Good enough to do the job; not so expensive or specialized to fix, or in the worst case, worry about if it was damaged or even stolen in the chaos of an emergency. What about a touring bike? A cross? A mountain bike? Anybody with first responder or emergency management experience who could comment?

Perhaps idle speculation, but the power of the hurricane dwarfs what we as society think we can really do... I sure hope everybody on the east coast is managing well given their circumstances.
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Old 10-30-12, 01:10 AM   #2
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I recently had the same thought. I'm not sure I could come up with anything better than a 26" Surly LHT.

Simple, yet high-quality, parts that are compatible with most parts from the MTB and comfort hybrids out there in large amounts, whether cheap or decent. Not flashy, very sturdy, stable and versatile. Maybe a bit closer to the expensive side of things for some.

Most any bike that is decently set up/capable of commuting or touring would make an excellent choice, though. An old rigid MTB will be almost as good with very little cost.


I'd like to think my LHT is getting there, even if only to be convenient in daily life than to be an emergency bike . I have a dynamo and lights. So as not to be dependent on the grid, I will someday have it running a usb port/battery to charge phones, lights etc. Big sturdy tires, fenders and racks.

There are specific situations where other styles of bikes would be better, but a touring bike seems the best compromise overall.

Maybe a dahon or the like equipped the same way to go into the trunk/toolbox of your vehicle to be on hand all of the time is just as valid.
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Old 10-30-12, 05:25 AM   #3
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I travel extensively for a living most of it in the hurricane zone. During Katrina I was in Mobile, AL. I had my old Raleigh 3 speed with me, served me well. Most of my co-workers were spending 2+ hours every evening sitting in line at a gas station trying to get their $25 (5 gallons) worth of gas. I just rolled on by on my way too and fro. They were having to drive miles out of their way due to closed roads, I could slip through the road blocks and around the obstructions.

I have been downsized to a sedan, currently I either take a Raleigh Twenty or a Dahon Classic III with me. Eventually I plan on a Brompton.

If I had to have only one bike I would pick something with 26" tires, IGH, fenders and racks. I have a couple of old steel MTB frames that would fill the bill.

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Old 10-30-12, 05:51 AM   #4
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I would look for good lights.
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Old 10-30-12, 06:23 AM   #5
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A long-wheelbase recumbent would probably be best, simply because you could ride it farther non-stop than anything else, due to the better comfort it has.
That said, the idea if an "evacuation bicycle" is kinda silly.

The absolute best emergency preparation you can have in the modern world is a working motor vehicle and enough fuel on hand to get 300 miles.
That vehicle would end up being a car for most people, but it could be a boat if you lived near the ocean or a major river.
In the last ~100 years, there has not been one natural disaster that you could not escape by jumping into a motor vehicle and driving 300 miles.
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Old 10-30-12, 06:37 AM   #6
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In the last ~100 years, there has not been one natural disaster that you could not escape by jumping into a motor vehicle and driving 300 miles.
You, along with several million other people.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:36 AM   #7
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That said, the idea if an "evacuation bicycle" is kinda silly.... The absolute best emergency preparation you can have in the modern world is a working motor vehicle and enough fuel on hand to get 300 miles. That vehicle would end up being a car for most people, but it could be a boat if you lived near the ocean or a major river. In the last ~100 years, there has not been one natural disaster that you could not escape by jumping into a motor vehicle and driving 300 miles.
Huh. Got to disagree strongly with you there that an "evacuation bicycle" is silly. Yes, a car, boat, motorcycle, etc. would be my first choice too. But if you had no choice, then what would you do? Your motor vehicle is only as good as the road it is on. Unless you happen to own a 4X4 top of the line land rover and jeep that would allow you to drive off road, what would you do if you're on a major expressway, a storm causes an accident, and you're stuck because you and 10,000 other motorists have no way out, and no way around? Just last week, a major storm hit the community of Wawa in Ontario, and took out part of the TransCanada highway, the major east-west roadway through the country.

Or, in the case of the power blackout that hit most of the NE USA and eastern Canada in 2003, there was "no where" else to really go, and most service stations had reduced or no pumping ability? I had enough fuel to travel about 250 km, but I wouldn't have been able to go farther without refueling at some point. And if you're not financially well off enough to own a car (or choose not to have one because you live in a dense, urban area), you simply can't depend on a car as a mode of evacuation.

The "modern world" is only modern so long as there is fuel, shelter, electricity, emergency services, civil obedience, food, clean running water, and communications. Take one or more out for longer than 72 hours and it starts looking a lot less modern...
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Old 10-30-12, 07:50 AM   #8
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I have lived through several storm based disasters. In every case the least viable form of transportation was a gas powered vehicle. IF you can (and will) leave early enough a car/truck MAY get you out ahead of the disaster quickly. But then you are probably married to it and all of it's shortcomings after the fact. I can do 100 miles a day on my bike if need be, that is a long day but adrenaline can be a helluva motivator. Yes you can drive that in a couple of hours in a car, if fuel is available and the roads are open. The most important thing is what is between your ears and how well you prepare.

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Old 10-30-12, 08:00 AM   #9
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I have lived through several storm based disasters. In every case the least viable form of transportation was a gas powered vehicle. IF you can (and will) leave early enough a car/truck MAY get you out ahead of the disaster quickly. But then you are probably married to it and all of it's shortcomings after the fact. I can do 100 miles a day on my bike if need be, that is a long day but adrenaline can be a helluva motivator. Yes you can drive that in a couple of hours in a car, if fuel is available and the roads are open. The most important thing is what is between your ears and how well you prepare.

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The voice of experience! And, I just saw an image of a tree that smashed through the window of car. Not too drivable. Assuming your bike was in a protected area, at least you could get around post-disaster. It's nice to have options.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:08 AM   #10
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I have been downsized to a sedan, currently I either take a Raleigh Twenty or a Dahon Classic III with me. Eventually I plan on a Brompton.

If I had to have only one bike I would pick something with 26" tires, IGH, fenders and racks. I have a couple of old steel MTB frames that would fill the bill.

Aaron
I have a Brompton - it's great for commuting. And in the disaster scenario, it would be by far the easiest to fold and most portable to carry. But, you're stuck with the tires and limited upgrades to the drivetrain, etc. I wanted to actually put more aggressive/winter tires on my Brompton for wet weather/dirt/snow, but there are almost no choices. So, much as I love it, you'd eventually run into scenarios - regular or disaster - that you might wish you had more options.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:24 AM   #11
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A long-wheelbase recumbent would probably be best, simply because you could ride it farther non-stop than anything else, due to the better comfort it has.
That said, the idea if an "evacuation bicycle" is kinda silly.

The absolute best emergency preparation you can have in the modern world is a working motor vehicle and enough fuel on hand to get 300 miles.
That vehicle would end up being a car for most people, but it could be a boat if you lived near the ocean or a major river.
In the last ~100 years, there has not been one natural disaster that you could not escape by jumping into a motor vehicle and driving 300 miles.
Good point. Having been evacated more than once myself I find a bicycle would fit in a very small window for a evacuation vehicle. Depends on if you have a family and pets. But I would add that within that small window or box a recumbent Trike would be good as well, but I have a truck and wouldn't need the ability to use a rack. I have found being prepared and leaving early works best. The first time I ever had to leave home we waited till the evacuation was manitory. Loaded up the kids and pets and headed out along with a string of other people doing the same thing. The next time I had my family leave two days before and I left before they forced us out. It was like surfing and we were ahead of the wave.
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Old 10-30-12, 10:31 AM   #12
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i live on the gulf coast of texas and we get hurricanes regularly enough that we aren't in a frenzy when one shows up.

down here, as an after vehicle, a bike could be a good choice. as a get out of town vehicle, you need a gas powered vehicle. my wife and i own jeeps so we can get off road if we need to but if you had to get out of town on a bike, the closest safe zone for hurricanes is san antonio, 120 miles north of here. i might make it but the wife wouldn;t. the kids might make it too but they might not. that four door wrangler or my old 87 wrangler would be loaded down and my hybrid specialized would be on the back.
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Old 10-30-12, 01:05 PM   #13
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As I also live on the Atlantic Coast, bicycles are part of my evacuation plan. A full tank of fuel and knowledge of alternate back roads will get me to my parents house in Darlington County without too much delay. As my wife is required to stay behind and evacuate the hospital, there is just me and my two children that will leave.

The bicycles are a back up to the car in case of a mechanical failure with the car. We may not be able to ride more then 40 miles, but we could find a shelter of one form or another at a church, school, or National Guard Armory.
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Old 10-30-12, 01:12 PM   #14
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anything with pontoons ...
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Old 10-30-12, 01:53 PM   #15
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The answer I'd give is the bike your ride regularly.

Emergency backup bikes end up worthless far too often as the tires are rotted out when they are suddenly needed on short notice.

If I wanted a bad road bug out vehicle I would go with a small motorcycle. I can think of a few places where getting a bicycle through is easier than getting a little honda 90 through, but very few and most of those intentionally designed for bike paths.

I'm a big guy, I stand up to weather far better than most. For a storm by the time there are problems getting through by car it is already to the point where being out on a bicycle is the last thing you want to do.

Now post disaster transport like Wahoonc mentioned or post disaster bail outs are a different matter.
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Old 10-30-12, 03:31 PM   #16
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I'd go with this. It's ready. I own it.

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Old 10-30-12, 04:40 PM   #17
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Ya, I don't know how practical a bike would be. If you can't drive your car because of blocked roads/etc. what makes you think your bike can? Can you ride over trees on your bike? An SUV would do better here... Plus I would have a hard time riding in heavy winds...

That is why I built this:
http://cdn.home-designing.com/wp-con...mb-shelter.jpg


Just kidding!
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Old 10-30-12, 04:53 PM   #18
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I'd go with this. It's ready. I own it.

I'm with you.
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Old 10-30-12, 06:10 PM   #19
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Motorcycle FTW in all these situations. Dirtbike or touring hybrid.

Great on gas. All the advantages of a bicycle with some serious speed /bugout capability.
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Old 10-30-12, 06:37 PM   #20
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The "modern world" is only modern so long as there is fuel, shelter, electricity, emergency services, civil obedience, food, clean running water, and communications. Take one or more out for longer than 72 hours and it starts looking a lot less modern...

If you have never watched a Tv documentary series called connections i would so suggest going and watching Epsiode 1
[h=3]Connections (1978)[/h]
  1. "The Trigger Effect" details the world’s present dependence on complex technological networks through a detailed narrative of New York City and the power blackout of 1965. Agricultural technology is traced to its origins in ancient Egypt and the invention of the plow. The segment ends in Kuwait where, because of oil, society leapt from traditional patterns to advanced technology in a period of only about 30 years.


It really Highlights how screwed we are ....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connect...28TV_series%29

It is old but i have watched all 10 and found them to be extremely informative.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:40 PM   #21
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Ya, I don't know how practical a bike would be. If you can't drive your car because of blocked roads/etc. what makes you think your bike can? Can you ride over trees on your bike? An SUV would do better here... Plus I would have a hard time riding in heavy winds...
Well... uh... I would think if a tree blocked the roadway, and there was no way to backtrack with your vehicle and you needed to get somewhere in a hurry, you could unhitch the bike, grab your bug-out bag, walk around the tree with your bike, hop on, and just keep going. It would be tiring if there were numerous felled trees, but I would think the combination of walking and biking is a superior mode of moving than just walking, or car which could be rendered pointless by a single large felled tree (or overturned semi-trailer blocking 6 lanes of traffic), if you had to just get moving out of harm's way. And no, I wouldn't ride over a downed tree either , but I'm betting you could make better headway on your feet and pair of bike wheels than a 2500 lb car/SUV that has limited ground clearance and can't navigate side drainage ditches or natural barriers on either side of a roadway. And you're probably not going back the way you came if 5,000 of your closest friends are stuck in their cars behind you trying to get to the same place.

I'm not advocating that you shouldn't drive out in an evacuation - heck, of course that would be my first option - but I'm asking opinions on a useful bike setup as a back up or if you had no other option. Besides, when the zombie apocalypse hits, there won't be any more gas available to power your car.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:46 PM   #22
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Start with a women's rigid MTB, throw on the best thorn-resistant tires and tubes you can manage, put a dynohub on the front with LED front and rear lights. Fenders, racks and panniers front and rear. Weld a 2nd women's MTB frame on top to make a tallbike - now you're safe from dogs and a foot or so of water or nuclear waste. Tallbikes have a certain shock-and-awe effect that will give just enough time to get some separation; I can't say whether that works on zombies or not. You're gonna want a helmet-mount light as well; make that USB chargeable, and get one of those dynamo-to-USB adapters so you can charge it up while riding during the day. The grid's gonna be down so no cell comm, but satellites will be good so a GPS unit will work, again USB chargable. Make sure the MTBs are 26" because you can loot any Wally world for 26" tires and tubes.

You might argue that slicks would be faster than MTB tires and you'd be right. But honestly you're not going to outrun a hurricane on a bike unless you catch a tailwind, so being able to ride through muck is desirable. I'd go with MTB tires and run them at max PSI, but that's just me. YMMV.

One thing I'm unclear about is in a post-apocalyptic world where everything fails in such a way that the bicycle is the only viable form of transportation, whether the tallbike guy is the de facto leader, the 2nd banana, or the fringe guy who's the first to die when a challenger comes to town.
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Old 10-30-12, 10:05 PM   #23
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Tall bike, eh? What if the zombies are all basketball players and are over 6'6"?

Seriously, I started this thread to explore the idea of a bike as a second-to-last-ditch mode of transportation. I know you can't outbike a hurricane, but there are lots of other emergencies that you might have to evacuate from, so I'm sure some of those could benefit from having a bike around. And biking post disaster might be useful.

Of course, I might have to install a zombie deflection grill on the front my bike, but I'll electrify it using my dynamo!
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Old 10-30-12, 10:19 PM   #24
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The disaster most likely to really test the survivabilty of our area is a tsunami generated by a powerful subduction earthquake. So imagine the worst case...a Richter 9 earthquake rocks our world at 2 am and we have 20 minutes to move 1 mile east on to high ground (80 feet + above sea level) to avoid the tsunami. My bikes are in a garage and there is no way I can get the doors open after such an earthquake. Just getting out of the house will be a challenge. I figure 2-5 minutes to escape the house and 15 minutes fast walking/trotting in the dead of night crossing downed power poles, trees, broken roads. Some of us have already practiced..it's not pretty. We use simple turnout gear of rubber boots, rain pants over sweats pulled down over the boots, heavy coats and a bugout bag. A bike won't cut it.
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Old 10-31-12, 02:04 AM   #25
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heavy Chicago made Schwinn .. straw filled tires.

a USCG approved Gumby Suit with a PFD is a good thing..
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