Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey

September 14, 2017 by  
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Houston Bike Share is distributing free bicycles to those who lost their vehicles in Hurricane Harvey . When the powerful storm dumped a record amount of rain on the Houston area, damaging at least 100,000 homes and killing more than 70 people, it also destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars. Many of those who lost their vehicles are still paying for them, which makes purchasing a new car difficult. Through its program Keep Houston Rolling , in partnership with  BikeHouston , Freewheels Houston and Rice Bikes , Houston Bike Share aims to provide access to alternative transportation to those who need it. Houston is a car city, as is clear in its infrastructure and its local culture. “I love driving my car, I’m never going to get rid of it,” admitted Carter Stern, executive director of  Houston Bike Share . “But I ride my bike to work three to four days a week, and that’s great. I [view] the mobility in a city less as a binary decision and more as giving people a healthy ecosystem of options.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, access to bikes could make a difference for those who currently are immobile without their vehicles. “It’s a way for us to put a dent in some of the issues that are going to be facing Houston in the aftermath of the storm,” said Stern. Related: China’s largest bike share launches air-purifying bicycles for 20 million citizens Although Keep Houston Rolling is serving an immediate need in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it may have a sustained impact on how the city views and supports biking as a transportation mode going forward.  “When I go to city meetings or talk with the community, there’s a lot of skepticism around using a bike for utilitarian purposes, not just for fun,” said Stern. “But once you start using it to go to the store or go to work, you realize it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s good, it’s relaxing.” Via Fast Company Lead image via Pixabay , others via Houston Bike Share and Brandon Navarro

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3 ways to capture water for your backyard garden (that wont break the bank)

September 14, 2017 by  
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One major issue a lot of backyard farmers have to contend with is water . All plants need water in order to thrive, and that generally means people have to hose down their gardens twice a day to ensure a healthy, generous harvest. With droughts and water shortages becoming more frequent, we need to be innovative when it comes to harvesting and using this precious resource: read on to find out how you can capture water around your own home, for startlingly less cost than you might have guessed. Trashcan Barrels For about $20, you can make a rainwater collection barrel from a simple trash can. What you’ll need and how to make it: A 20-gallon plastic garbage can—make sure to get one with a domed lid Mosquito netting A drill with a small hole saw bit 1 valve spigot that has a bulkhead fitting Waterproof duct tape or plumbing tape Teflon tape to secure the spigot Step 1 : Use your drill to create several drainage holes in the center of the garbage can’s lid. Then drill an overflow hole into the side of the barrel, about 3 inches down from the top. Step 2 : Cut a piece of mosquito netting large enough to cover those holes, and use the duct or plumber’s tape to secure it on the convex side. You’ll be tipping the lid upside-down to create a bowl, so you want the netting facing downwards, into the barrel. Step 3 : Drill a hole about 3 inches from the barrel’s bottom, get your bulkhead into place, and then insert the spigot. It’s a good idea to use the teflon tape around the spigot first to make sure it’s watertight, and then twist it firmly into place to secure it. Step 4 : Secure that upside-down lid onto the barrel, and seal with duct tape. You’ll need to prop your barrel a foot or two above the ground, so stack up some cement masonry blocks or random bricks as a stand for it. Voila! It’ll catch rainwater when it falls, and the netting will prevent leaf detritus from falling into the water below. Related: Bowl-shaped roofs harvest rainwater and promote natural cooling in arid environments Earth Mounds Got a shovel? Then you can make these. Basically, this technique just involves moving soil around in your yard to create channels that direct rainwater to where you want it to collect. Pretty much every bit of land has naturally occurring microclimates : these are areas that are either higher or lower than the rest of the soil around them, or get more light (or more shade), or have different clay/sand/loam ratios. You can determine where the wetter microclimates in your own land are by doing a quick, heavy watering with your garden hose, and watching where the water runs. You can use your shovel to dig shallow trenches to divert water to where you want it to go, and use the soil you’ve removed to build up shallow walls on either side of that trench for reinforcement. You’re essentially creating mini streams that will flow towards the plants that require the most moisture, and away from those that prefer drier feet. Ideal areas that will benefit from this kind of diversion system are: Trees, especially those that produce fruit or nuts, as they require a lot of water Brassica beds: dedicated areas where you’ll grow kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on Lettuce beds: those greens are thirsty Corn rows: its shallow roots don’t hold water well, so it needs to drink often Legume patches: peas, snow peas, beans Related: DIY hugelkultur – how to build raised garden beds Mulch Say it out loud, just for fun: “mmmulch”. Satisfying little word, isn’t it? It’s also a tremendously effective way to collect (and keep) moisture in your garden. A lot of people end up watering their food gardens far more often than should be necessary because so much moisture is lost through evaporation, so the best way to combat that is with mulch . Grass clippings, trimmed leaves from plants like squash and comfrey, and bits of bark can all be lain atop your garden’s soil—just make sure to keep it about half an inch away from vegetable stems so that it doesn’t cause root rot. Here’s a tip: lay strips of copper coil around these mulchy mounds to keep slugs away, since they won’t cross the metal barrier. Those slugs may love moist mulch, but the copper will keep them away from your vegetables. As an aside, don’t be too overzealous with your weeding: those inedible plants may be “unsightly” as far as a traditional garden goes, but they help to keep water in the soil and prevent erosion. Additionally, if you let your chickens roam around freely, they can feed on those weeds instead of on your vegetables. Unless the unwanted plants are causing real harm, let them be. Photos via Pixabay, Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons

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World’s longest mountain bike route could be extended 400 miles

August 11, 2017 by  
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Bicyclists can explore North America from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico on the longest mountain bike path in the world. Sprawling across 2,700 miles, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), completed by Adventure Cycling Association , could soon have several hundred miles added to it. In honor of the GDMBR’s upcoming 20th anniversary, the association is fundraising to improve and extend the landmark trail. The GDMBR has been thrilling mountain bikers since 1997. Now the association wants to make the trail even better: they say cyclists have requested more off-road options and destinations. Adventure Cycling Association aims to extend the route to connect with Jasper National Park, around 100 miles north of Banff, and add a spur to their headquarters in Missoula, Montana. Related: New bike “greenway” stretching from Florida to Maine is 31% complete The association says bicyclists of all skill levels can enjoy the trail, from a family with six children ages 10 to 17, the Todds, who like to spend part of their summer vacation riding the trail, to endurance cyclists like Jay Petervary. It takes around 37 days to cycle the GDMBR in its entirety, according to Bikepacking.com , who rate the trail’s difficulty 5.5 on a scale of one to 10. They describe the route as “the most recognized and important off-pavement cycling route in the United States, if not the world.” Cyclists on the route experience Grand Teton National Park, the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, and the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, to name a few sights. If you’d like to donate towards the GDMBR extension, and the creation of a new off-road Arkansas route of 1,400 miles, you can do so here . A group of Adventure Cycling members will match each donation until September 30. With the money, the association also plans to redesign and produce paper and digital maps . + Adventure Cycling Association Via GearJunkie and Adventure Cycling Association Images via William Hook on Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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World’s longest mountain bike route could be extended 400 miles

San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike

April 17, 2017 by  
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A new bike store in the Bay Area of San Francisco has come up with an interesting way to get people to reduce their transportation footprint. Electric bikes make a great alternative for commutes in cities like San Francisco , but many people find the hefty price tag of an e-bike prohibitive. The New Wheel solves that by allowing patrons to trade in their old vehicles for an e-bike – and a healthier lifestyle. San Francisco’s 74 hills don’t make for pleasant bike commutes – unless you’ve got an e-bike to help you. The New Wheel is making it easier for people to obtain e-bikes. Patrons can bring in their old cars, and the bike shop will take notes on the car’s condition and mileage, and send the information to Roadster.com . 48 hours later they make patrons an offer, and will even come pick up the old car and deliver a check. Ideally patrons will spend some of that money on an e-bike at The New Wheel, but aren’t required to do so. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike Shop co-founder Brett Thurber told Fast Company, “We’ve always been in the business of trying to figure out ways to get people out of cars and onto bikes. With all the traffic and even parking, it’s not convenient anymore, in many instances, to own a car. I think the thing we’re up against is just habit.” The New Wheel has adopted other ideas from the car industry to help people get used to the idea of owning a bike as their main vehicle. They offer financing for e-bikes and allow people to trade in their old e-bikes. They even offer roadside assistance; if bikers get a flat tire The New Wheel will pick them up twice a year and give them a free ride up to 30 miles. + The New Wheel Via Fast Company Images via Pixabay and Tom Lowenthal on Flickr

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

March 20, 2017 by  
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Are you intrigued by electric bicycles but already own a regular bike? UrbanX created a drop-in wheel that can turn almost any old bicycle into a cool e-bike. The wheel only takes around one minute to install and boasts an impressive range of 30 miles on a single charge. The UrbanX bike wheel simplifies e-bikes: add their wheel and you’re good to go. The product adds an additional 15 pounds to a bike, which isn’t as heavy or clunky as some electric bikes can be. The company behind the product offers the wheel in six sizes; they say it will fit 99 percent of bikes. Their compact battery charges in an hour and a half. Related: Juicer electric bikes bridge dorky environmentalism and cool-guy style https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934648866/urbanx-convert-any-bike-to-an-electric-bike-in-60/description The company offers a 240 watt motor and a 350 watt motor. The 240W motor’s top speed is 15 miles per hour (mph) while the 350W motor’s top speed is 20mph. Bikers can also pedal as normal; UrbanX includes a three level pedal assist system that can be switched via an app. UrbanX says their product “works smarter, not harder by using an algorithm to ensure 100 percent of motor output is utilized to power your ride.” They came up with their patent-pending Sinus Algorithm Controlling System to boost the battery and motor’s efficiency. UrbanX isn’t the first company to come out with such a product; GeoOrbital also recently unveiled a bike wheel that converts bicycles into e-bikes within 60 seconds. The look of the two wheels are quite different, and UrbanX’s 240W motor wheel is much less expensive than GeoOrbital’s wheel. To help bring their product to market, UrbanX also turned to crowdfunding . With over 30 days to go, they’ve raised more than double their initial goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter . The limited early bird prices for the tires start at $299. UrbanX ambitiously says they’ll be delivering the wheels this summer. Via TreeHugger Images via UrbanX Electric Wheel Facebook

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

Tech group 3D-prints a cutting-edge bike to highlight the power of collaborative innovation

September 1, 2016 by  
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A Belgian tech consortium has created a one-of-a-kind 3D-printed bicycle that solidly positions the country’s Flanders region as the leading innovator for the still-emerging technology. The group, composed of 15 companies and research institutes, is called Flam?D (Flame3D) and its masterpiece is known as the ?-bike, which nobody has any idea how to pronounce. Ironically, despite all evidence to the contrary, Flam?D insists that the ?-bike is “NOT a 3D-printed bike.” Is that a nod to the region’s rich history in surrealism, or are they just messing with us? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-_o_yAqDqk The main reason Flam?D has chosen to be so flippant about its cycle creation is quite simple. Rather than focus on the product, the consortium hopes to inspire tech industry folks to look at the process by which it was developed. As 3D printing technology advances—even in the region of Flanders where Flam?D notes that any number of companies could easily print a bicycle—what becomes most important in further innovations in the field is cooperation. By combining the efforts of 13 companies and two research institutes, Flam?D says its goal is “demonstrating real innovations in [3D printing] and an obvious eagerness to cooperate,” according to its website. “The result happens to look like a bicycle.” Related: Empire Cycles unveils world’s first ultralight 3D-printed titanium bike Essentially, the 3D-printed bike is not meant to revolutionize the field of bicycle manufacturing. Rather, Flam?D intends it to be a demonstration tool to show companies and students what 3D-printing technology (in a cooperative team environment) is capable of producing. The bike was unveiled Aug. 27 at an event at Zolder Race Circuit, and is now on tour, sharing its message of innovation and cooperation at other events and fairs. Flam?D consists of the following companies and research institutes: 3D&I, 3Dee, Formando, Hoet, KULeuven, Layered Prints, Materialise, MT3D, REIN4CED, RSPrint, Sirris, T&M Solutions, Tenco DDM, Ugent and Vamac. The consortium notes that the actual creation of the bicycle was made possible by further cooperative efforts by these firms: Ridley Bikes, r-l-f, Mobi-bikes, Bodycote IMT, koopjefiets.be and Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Via New Atlas Images via Flam?D

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Thailand’s tallest building opens with new green spaces for Bangkok

September 1, 2016 by  
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Ole Scheeren designed the tower while working at Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and completed the project with his own studio Büro Ole Scheeren. Located in the Central Business District in Bangkok , the new tower might not stay the tallest building in Thailand – the Rama IX Super Tower slated for completion in 2019 is expected to be almost twice as high as MahaNakhon. The solid facade of the tower is broken up by a pixelated effect meant to reveal parts of the inner life of the building. The carved volume forms green areas and balconies that offer great views of Bangkok. In addition to various residential and commercial spaces, the tower includes a large public space with public gardens and a transportation hub. + Büro Ole Scheeren Via Archdaily

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Handmade Italian e-bike stops traffic with its weightless, elegant design

July 5, 2016 by  
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Young Swiss company velocipede-fogliaverde has unveiled a lighter-than-air, stylish electric bike for urban riders. At just 18.7 kg or 41 lbs, this incredibly light, elegant bike is the first non-plugin parallel hybrid E-hub on the market. The high-tech system only gives you power when you absolutely need it to accelerate or go up hill. Using a torque and slope sensing technology, this e-bike contains an invisible battery with no wiring, and is controlled with Bluetooth-smartphone connectivity. Inspired by the elegant high-quality cult bicycles of yesteryear, the stunning set of wheels comes equipped with a leather case, saddle bag of tools, two steel porters, wooden chain guard, carrying strap, kickstand, bell and reflectors. Whether you commute to work or take it out for a leisurely spin, admiration of bystanders is guaranteed. + velocipede-fogliaverde on Kickstarter The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Handmade Italian e-bike stops traffic with its weightless, elegant design

Sentier’s Bike Trolley lets you hit the open road with your luggage in tow

June 20, 2016 by  
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Dreaming of a cross country bike adventure? The Sentier Bike Trolley is a new high performance bike trailer that lets you ride quickly and comfortably with all your luggage in tow. Developed by a cycling enthusiast , the Bike Trolley allows riders to achieve a faster, safer biking experience with a trolley bag that transforms into a trailer. Made in Italy, the durable design contains a stainless steel frame with a 40kg load capacity, fits any bike with a wheel size between 26” and 29”, and sports an eco-compatible waterproof ripstop. The Sentier has already surpassed Kickstarter funding , getting us seriously amped up to hit the open road. + Sentier Bike Trolley

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Paris redesigns its famous squares to make them pedestrian and bike friendly

April 14, 2016 by  
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