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Utility Cycling Want to haul groceries, beer, maybe even your kids? You don't have to live car free to put your bike to use as a workhorse. Here's the place to share and learn about the bicycle as a utility vehicle.

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Old 06-10-09, 07:04 PM   #1
eggnoggbubble
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websites promoting cycling in hilly areas?

Hi utilitarians(?),]

I didnt mention in my prev threads, but I teach English at university in Okinawa, Japan (which has a very strong car culture and very little cycling - a legacy of the american occupation perhaps?) and in my lessons I am trying to promote environmental issues generally and cycling in particular.

One thing that has struck me about many of the cycling websites (e.g. copenhagenize.com) is that they portray a very positive image of cycling....in flat areas. This is all well and good, but does anyone know of any pro-cycling websites/cities that are predominantly hilly? The reason I ask is that Okinawa is pretty damn hilly in places (hence my previous thread about carrying loads up hills), and I know this is one of the objections people are going to throw up. I'd like to be able to show some evidence that cycling works perfectly well as a method of transportation in hilly areas too.

Does anyone know of any such sites? My gooogling so far hasn't thrown up much.

Thanks for any suggestions

happy rolling
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Old 06-10-09, 08:46 PM   #2
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(which has a very strong car culture and very little cycling - a legacy of the american occupation perhaps?)
Is there anything that we are not to blame for?


Maybe the availability of cheap motorcycles/scooters in the past, has something to do with this? Maybe the aforementioned hills have a lot to do with this. Maybe the monetary benefits of the american occupation let the residents afford to purchase automobiles?
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Old 06-10-09, 09:44 PM   #3
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Is there anything that we are not to blame for?
In short, other than the crucifixion NO.

sorry I take that back, I guess the Spanish inquisitions weren't really your fault either.

hmmm cant seem to think of anything else
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Old 06-10-09, 11:42 PM   #4
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oops, sorry no offense was intended to the many US citizens who are members of this forum! Sorry if that sounded rude, some of my best friends are american and I make no judgements based on nationality. If blaming individuals for the past acts of their country's governments then I have a whole empire to apologise for (I'm from England).

Historically speaking tho', it does seem interesting that the only place in Japan to have been occupied for a time by the US is also the only place in Japan with NO trains (tho there is now a recently-completed monorail in Naha, the capital) and very little cycling. This is just my personal theory though.

Anyhoo, sorry if I caused offence, none was intended.
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Old 06-11-09, 03:55 AM   #5
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Lets not destroy yet another good thread by turning it into a messed up mix of hurt feelings and politics.

I do not know any sites doing exactely what you ask for. I think there is a lot of sites promoting riding around the mountains for holyday / touring purposes. Maybe ask or read in the touring forums? Maybe look at sites where countrys w lots of mountains promote biking for holydays? Switzerland, Himalayas, Norway, Italy..

Then look for Utility biking pictures (i think there is a Flickr site called "i carryed this on my bike" or something like that. I am sure some of the pix are from hilly areas, or at least they should undrstand that if you can carry ths on a flat surface for sure you can carry yourself + a small bag up a hill.

Also being (or looking) fit is a big plus these days, and biking make you strong and make you look good for cheap.

Last edited by badmother; 06-11-09 at 05:56 AM. Reason: zpElLing
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Old 06-11-09, 05:05 AM   #6
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Not sure if this will help much but Baltimore is hilly. http://www.baltimorespokes.org/
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Old 06-11-09, 07:48 AM   #7
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I don't know of any sites like that specifically. You know, the car culture tends to become predominant everywhere. It's really not just America. People are lazy, and they want to get places fast. Once the car takes over, city planning and development gets laid out over longer distances, thereby making the car even more necessary. The one negative about America is that it has allowed the auto industry to be successful at eliminating or preventing the development of good public transit, trains, and anything else that competed with it. But, I mean, most people seem to have offered little resistance to that. I park my arse on a hard, narrow bicycle saddle most of the time if I'm not walking. My parent's generation still parks theirs in a car seat. They were truly the car generation, just like we are the computer and internet generation. Like I've posted before, the car is the ultimate wheelchair. People like to fantasize about bike cities, but even in those, the car predominates.

Sites like the Copenhagen one promote fantasy cycling. Fine for people who only ride short distances within a small, well-defined area without any climbs or descents. Japan is very mountainous and hilly. I know, I was there.

Real world cycling is what leads people to more efficient bikes like decent, sensible road bikes, and even mountain bikes or hybrids if you can forget about suspension and big fat knobby tires. You need to be able to climb hills without busting a gut. The Danish, or old English postman's type bikes that are increasingly appearing in bike showrooms aren't very practical for riding except for short distances on flat roads. For any kind of efficiency at all, especially going uphill, downhill or up against wind, you need to be leaned forward at least a little.

People nowadays associate "road bikes" with the racing types, but back in the bike boom of the 1960's, road type bikes started being adopted because they were more practical than the existing 3 speed "racers" and other heavy, slow bicycles.

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Old 06-11-09, 08:46 AM   #8
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I agree with everything badmother and Longfemur said.

You might find The Fully Loaded Touring Bike Photo Gallery an inspiration. A lot of the pics are in hilly terrain, and many of the bikes shown have been customized. All in all a great site for anyone who is into schlepping/touring/climbing/travel/photography.

In addition to I carried this on my bicycle on Flickr there is also bicycle cargo trailers.

Still of course you'll find the overwhelming majority of utility/cargo bikes are only being used on the flats. It's just the crazies like you and me who would take one out for a roller coaster ride.

Last edited by andychrist; 06-11-09 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 06-12-09, 07:47 PM   #9
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thanks for the links guys, very helpful.

My humble two-cents worth is that for bicycling to be a real-world solution to transportation problems, it has to work in varied terrain. But the affluence we now enjoy does lead us to take the most 'efficient' choice (the path of least resistance), which for so many people is the car - especially as our whole social infrastructure is geared around the car as the only way from A to B(no pun intended). I agree wholeheartedly that amsterdam and copenhagen aren't perfect examples for the rest of the world because they are so flat. Nevertheless, by designing our societies so that the car is a harder option (more expensive, no parking, priority to bikes etc) people, as they have done in c'gen and a'dam, will start to choose bikes.

With appropriate gears, and reasonable travel distances (which means living nearer where you work, so will cause some upheaval), it does seem that cycling should be a realistic option, even in hilly areas.
For hills, tho, if pedalpower doesnt do it for the masses, i guess there is always electrical assist.

anyway, if you are interested i have attached the unit of discussion work i wrote (format based on the textbook we are using) about cycling for transportation. Most of my students said 'nearly never' about their current use of bicycles (they all come to college by car) so this should promote some discussion at least.

I doubt i will change their minds in 90mins, but maybe they'll remember about this lesson next time they see something about cycling on tv.

thanks again for the input
Attached Files
File Type: pdf cycling to work p 1.pdf (89.7 KB, 8 views)
File Type: pdf cycling to work p2.pdf (61.0 KB, 3 views)
File Type: pdf cycling to work p3.pdf (38.9 KB, 3 views)
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Old 06-13-09, 06:52 AM   #10
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What a lot of people do not realize is that hills do get easier. With one person new to bike commuting that I know of, the major hill on her commute had to have two rest stops on the way up the first month, next month no rest stops but a lot of work, six months later it no longer feels like a major hill just a nice scenic road that is conducive to take it all in.
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Old 06-13-09, 08:31 AM   #11
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If you're trying to get from Point A to Point B, and that's your sole goal, it works best if the route is flat. Or downhill, for that matter. But, if you're cycling for exercise, then hills are going to help you, not hurt you. Ditto with walking.

Here in the Dallas area, one of the drawbacks to doing cycling for any reason other than recreation is that 3/4 of the year, you're going to work up a major sweat doing it. Hilly country would make that problem that much worse. Maybe it's cooler and/or drier there, but that's a factor to keep in mind. Riding around northern Europe at 8 mph on flat land might work considerably better.
I'm always reading about the popularity of cycling in San Francisco, and also about the hills there. Haven't been there to see them, though.
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Old 06-13-09, 12:09 PM   #12
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I hear you, but it's unlikely that anyone is going to make a website specifically about bikes and hills. However, it seems like all of them deal with hills. There's lots of discussion about hills here.

I understand hilly riding. Little Rock is on the edge of the Ouachita Mountains. Fayetteville is in the Ozark Mountains. People in San Francisco understand hills, Colorado and Washington state too. Craigslist has a bike forum that is very Bay Area centric and lots of discussion of hills. Santa Cruz too. So maybe rather than looking for hills, look for sites in hilly areas.

Hills are a big hurdle for utility cyclists. A lot of people wont go through the steep learning curve because they don't see a strong benefit. The riding is harder, your speed is slower than on the flats so the benefit is reduced.

Maybe you need to start your own website, in Japanese, focused on Okinawa utility cycling. Start a social group as well. A utility bicycling club. And maybe you might do a hill climbing event. Find the steepest hill and challenge local riders to ride it.
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Old 06-14-09, 05:27 PM   #13
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artkansas,

the website is a great idea, i am actually just starting a blog (in japanese) about cycling and education (two of my obsessive preoccupations), slow going so far as i have a very busy schedule this term but i am hoping it will turn into something that'll explain why i think cycling is a good idea in ways that people in okinawa can relate to and understand.

here it is: http://tensimon.wordpress.com/ (the proper domain name will come later), have a quick look if you like, but dont get too excited - 1) i've only made a couple of posts so far, and 2) its all in japanese anyway

I'm hoping (dreaming) of organising a bike-bus to work day once a month or something, to help people get the bikes rolling, but thats for the future - right now i am also very busy (when i finish working for the day) helping to set up a democratic school, so my plate is pretty full right now (also, i have a baby....). Still, slow progress is better than no progress, so long as i do in fact keep moving forward. Or as someone somewhere on the web said:

"if you keep pedalling, you'll get there eventually"

Human Car - very true, when i first started commuting in england i had a quarter mile hell-hill to get out of my village that killed me every day, but pretty soon i was taking it in my stride and enjoying the fact that it got me all warmed-up first thing on the ride.

thanks for all the posts guys (must now do some real work)

Last edited by eggnoggbubble; 06-14-09 at 05:37 PM. Reason: hit post before i meant to
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Old 06-15-09, 06:05 AM   #14
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oops, sorry no offense was intended to the many US citizens who are members of this forum! Sorry if that sounded rude, some of my best friends are american and I make no judgements based on nationality. If blaming individuals for the past acts of their country's governments then I have a whole empire to apologise for (I'm from England).
No one would have thought you were saying anything bad. Thats why I made a joke. I too hope no one was offended.
I know the Colombians are well known to be good climbers
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Old 06-16-09, 01:10 AM   #15
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rustguard -

ok, no worries, thanks for replying!

happy pedalling
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Old 06-18-09, 12:50 AM   #16
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I've only just started biking and I'm doing so in Seattle, which is a city composed of seven hills. I can go nowhere of consequence without being guaranteed a hill or two to deal with, and since I live on a hill, I never get to coast home.

Although our population isn't huge, I've read recently that we have the third highest percentage of bike commuters of the biggest US cities. I haven't done much Internet research on local bicycling but I have to think you'll find what you're looking for by looking up bicycling in Seattle.
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Old 06-18-09, 02:21 AM   #17
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I live right on the top of a hill too! I mean right at the top, it isnt obvious so I only realised once i'd moved in (and started cycling around) but the slope of the road peaks right at my house and then starts to drop off again right as you go past. I have about 4feet of flat ground outside my gate! Not sure of the elevation but i regularly ride down to sea level - and then all the way back up! takes about 7 mins to get down, 20 to get up I guess, tho its several bumps, its not just one slope all the way down (or up).

anyway, i hope that goes someway to explaining my pre-occupation with hills. But actually, I know I personally can do it, what I am concerned with is trying to convince people (my students, and anyone who reads my blog - once it has some content that is) that it is possible for normal people as part of their daily activities.

It might be working tho - i had one girl on wednesday asking me after class how long i thought it would take to get from where she lives to school by bicycle. I go that way on fridays so I said i'd time it and get back to her. Kind of a hippy type, she looked pretty interested in the whole idea.

happy rolling
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Old 06-20-09, 08:39 PM   #18
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I live on a hill too, at the top, and bike to the grocery store and such. While some parts of the hill are unavoidable, I have routes where I can stairstep through the neighborhood so I can alternate flats and climbs. Makes it easier than going straight up a big hill. Maybe you can have your students come up with routes through your town like that?
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Old 06-20-09, 09:22 PM   #19
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from san francisco. adrienne lives atop one of the highest hills, famously steep: http://changeyourliferideabike.blogspot.com/
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Old 06-20-09, 10:49 PM   #20
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thanks!
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Old 07-09-09, 05:15 AM   #21
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I cannot help but think that battery-electric assist is the equalizer for commuting with hills. I seriously considered converting my "old bike" to a Bionx hub motor so that I can do the 1500 feet of climbing on my commute with eaze (round trip). It was expensive to buy a battery with the capacity to go 28 miles, though. I ended up carpooling, and that is my climate protection solution for now.
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Old 07-10-09, 06:35 AM   #22
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i agree, all the advantages of cycling in flat areas, and no need to be a superhero fitness freak to make it up the hills with your kids in back. Nutty pioneers (like ourselves) will do the he-man thing, but it'll just put normal people off. But with electric to level the playing field, normal people can choose bicyclular transport even in hilly areas.

Obviously it comes at some expense, but the electric mundo is only as much as a scooter, with zero emissions, more carrying capacity, and you can ride the cycle lanes (when they happen) and sidewalks (in the meantime) to aviod getting killed by irate cars (got a good licence plate photo on my phone earlier today). I think that ebikes are the future for hilly areas.

thanks for the post, carpooling halves your emissions, and is sometimes hard to organize, good effort!
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