1-2 A new berg

Sep. 24 2010

My second--and correctly addressed--ad ran last week in the local SF This Week paper and local clients have started to access my services. One of the first brought this BMX.

The parents of the rider told me it had been stolen from them and then found and recovered by their kids. The alleged thief was another local teen and the incident appears to have been a theft of opportunity. The bike had been repainted and its frame serial number removed but the kids recognized the seat and frame details. My task here was to reassemble the rear hand brake, which uses a headset-mounted cabled swivel ring for spinning the handle bars, and re-install the brake lever. I also had to replace the crank axle bearings and here I substituted a full set of loose ones in place of a limited set in retainers. A reminder, readers. Always lock your bike.

Another recent project was to bring somebody else's project to completion. A client tried to add taller BMX handle bars to this youth size mountain bike to get another year or two out of it. Mainly, the taller bars required longer brake and shifter cables but also the BMX handle bar was too thin to be clamped by the handle bar stem and adding a plastic strip just wouldn't do the job. The bike's original stem needs replacement with a BMX bar stem having a slimmer bar clamp, which I did after taking this pic.

So far I'm getting good feedback from my new clients, continuing the kind of feedback I was accustomed to in Ottawa.

Some observations about my newly-adopted town

First, I love being here. Second, I intend to make the town more bicycle-friendly and bicycle-minded, as best I can, because its obviously better.

Smiths Falls is quite compact and only two percent of its 4200 workers commute by bike. I heard 20 percent commute to Ottawa for work but never mind. Twelve percent walk and there is an additional population equal to another 12 percent who are kids 10-14 that go to school. The most likely non-recreational use of a bicycle here would be short trips faster than walking and more convenient than by car. Beside commuting to work or school, the purpose of these trips would be shopping, visiting friends and meeting appointments. The town has three choke points--all bridges crossing the Rideau River--bisecting north from south and its main roads are often congested but there are plenty of adjacent streets to go almost everywhere.

In the James Blish novel, Cities in Flight, towns and cities are cut out of the bedrock, equipped with "spindizzy" anti-gravity generators and launched into space, protected by a kind of force field generated by the anti-grav. How would Smiths Falls fair?

One thing missing too often here is the bicycle rack and where there are some they tend to be inadequate. The bike rack at the entrance of the Rideau Canal Museum consists of an archaic row of wheel slots with no posts to wrap a lock through. So is the rack at Canadian Tire on Lombard. North of the river, Giant Tiger's rack is okay. The public library has what looks like a home-made rack made from water pipes but its quite adequate. The rack at the Independent Grocers on Lombard has tall posts but they are unidirectional and installed backward, making the rack no better than a row of wheel slots, several of which are bent-in and unusable. I asked store staff about the rack being backwards. It was noted fixing that would be a big deal. The Walmart on Lombard has an adequate rack, although it has a bench attached to the front of it, cutting by half the number of bicycles that can be locked to it. There are plenty of parking meters to use downtown in place of racks and other posts suffice elsewhere, and these are superior to the above-mentioned inadequate racks because you can lock your bike frame and front wheel to them.