Learning to Ride   by kristin on May 16, 2017

Learning to ride a bike is a big deal. The experience has a sort of monumental and mythical quality to it. It’s one of those classic experiences you’re supposed to remember forever, symbolizing a sense of independence and accomplishment. We can probably all envision the scene - a parent running behind a child and holding on to the bike while giving words of encouragement. And the glorious moment of letting go and watching the shaky rider continue to move forward. There’s probably a crash or two or three in the memory too but that’s neither here nor there and the final achievement is what matters the most, right?

We taught my 3 year old daughter to ride a bike this weekend. As you might expect biking is big in our family. She rides with me on my long tail cargo bike to school, to the library and farmer’s markets, and on joy rides through the Arboretum. She watches her 6 year old brother jet around on his bike and for the last few months has talked excitedly about how this summer she will ride a “pedal bike”. She’s been riding a balance bike (bike with no pedals) since she was 18 months and this spring has been extra determined to ride it on family rides rather than hitch a ride with me on my big bike. So we decided to give the pedal bike a try this past weekend and she eagerly strapped her helmet on and ran out the door to start practicing. Her visible excitement made my heart swell.

She’s got the balancing down so it was just a matter of coordinating the pedaling (and not inadvertently pedaling backward and braking!). There were a few spills but she’s one tough cookie and would pick herself up off the sidewalk while wiping her hands together and climb back on. Within a few minutes she was riding past a few houses all on her own and she was clearly exhilarated with her accomplishment. We’re still working on starting and stopping and smoothing out some wobbles but with her grit I have no doubt she’ll have it totally figured out in a few weeks. And let it be said I’m strongly in the camp of no training wheels ever when teaching kids to ride – let them master the balance and then add in the pedals. It’s amazing how quick that transition can happen.

Learning to ride a bike is a big step for a kid and I’m delighted she’s gained this new skill. Seeing the joy of riding through the fresh eyes of a 3 year old is awesome. I see a lot of ice cream rides in our future this summer.

National Park week   by kristin on Apr 17, 2017

At Planet Bike, we obviously love riding our bikes. We use the bicycle for multiple reasons - transportation, recreation, racing, urban exploring, and family outings just to name a few. Aside from our daily use of the bicycle, we are always on the lookout for unique experiences to enjoy on our favorite two-wheeled wonder.

This week (April 15- 23) celebrates National Park week. National Parks are one of the crown jewels of outdoor exploration in the US and are also a source of great adventure via bike. The weekends bookending National Parks Week (April 15-16 and 22-23), entrance fees to National Parks are waived so they are free for all to explore.

For a truly unique experience, some of our National Parks offer car-free days. Most of these days happen in the spring as the snow melts when the roads are clear but the camping season is not yet in full swing. Here is a list of national parks that we have found to have car-free days:
Grand Teton
Mt. Rainier
Smoky Mountains
Lassen Volcanic
Crater Lake
North Cascades

Here are some photos of car-free days in Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. I encourage you to do some research on car free days in the National Park system. Get out and enjoy some stunning landscapes on some of the most unique roads in America. You never know, your next ride might be alongside a herd of buffalo!

400 bikes, 70 locks, thousands of smiles   by jay on Apr 07, 2017

March 29, 2017 was the culmination of six month’s hard work by Andy Quandt to bring Free Bikes 4 Kidz to Madison, WI. We gave away 400 bikes and helmets, 70 Planet Bike locks, and thousands of smiles. Turning run down bikes into gold feels good. Nigel Hayes of the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team was on hand to spread the love and help kids find the right bike.

Planet Bike’s involvement began in September 2016, at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, when I met Terry Essau the founder of Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FK4B). He described how FB4K gave away 6000 refurbished bikes in a single day! That is a serious quantity of bikes. How in the world do they do it? It’s a combination of space, time, and planning.

FB4K spends a year collecting and refurbishing discarded and used bikes with volunteer mechanics. FB4K works with community partners such as Boys & Girls Clubs, neighborhood centers, and schools to locate packs of kids that need free bikes. The partners gather key details on each kid such as size, age, and the style of bike they want.

At the big give away, the bikes are sorted en masse by these key details, but this mass of bikes is hidden from the kids. Each child will be presented with a small number of bikes that fits their needs, allowing the child to make a choice quickly.

When the child checks in at the big give away, they are accompanied by a volunteer “personal shopper” through the whole process so they can move efficiently from task to task. First, they are fitted with a new bike helmet, then they are presented with a few bikes to choose from, then they go to a bike fitting station where a mechanic adjusts seats, handlebars and performs a last safety check, then out the door.

What impressed me was the thoughtful refinement of the process with each iteration. It was smart, effective, and simple! It’s a pleasure to see a well-oiled machine at work, efficiently making peoples’ lives better.

So, I was very excited to hear that Andy Quandt of Bike Mobile was bringing FB4K to Planet Bike’s hometown, Madison, WI. It’s rare that Planet Bike gets to be up close and personal with the many groups we support throughout the year. On March 29, 2017, FB4K Madison had its first giveaway. Planet Bike donated 70 heavy duty locks, 400 bikes were given away, and thousands of smiles were brought to life.

Photos below:
1. Nigel Hayes with some happy kids
2. Personal Shopper Carmella waits as her shopper gets fitted with a new helmet. (Thanks to the SSM Dean volunteers that took over lock distribution when Jay was drafted to connect shoppers to bikes of the right size.)
3. Planet Bike locks

More kids on bikes   by kristin on Mar 29, 2017

Planet Bike has been a long-time supporter of youth cycling initiatives. We are thrilled to be a sponsor of the National Youth Cycling Research Initiative. Read below to find out more information on this exciting new project:

The Youth Cycling Alliance (YCA) announces the National Youth Cycling Research Initiative in collaboration with the UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business, Social Sector Solutions (S3) Program. The research grant seeks to gain input from youth cycling organizations, “map” the national youth cycling network and understand the dynamics of youth cycling programs operating in the United States.

Formed in 2016, the YCA aims to promote youth cycling in the United States by providing data driven research and leadership to support the establishment, expansion and sustainable development of youth cycling organizations and programs across the country. The YCA will focus on increasing awareness, creating opportunities for funding, building stronger connections between youth cycling organizations and the programs they operate and promoting best practices and models for cost-effective program delivery.

"With leadership from NICA and Trips for Kids, the Youth Cycling Alliance was formed in order to address the dire need for a coordinated approach to strengthening and empowering the organizations across America that are effectively working to get #morekidsonbikes. While there are many great organizations across the country doing great work with youth, there has never been a focused effort to bring these groups together to share resources and create a unified approach to ensure that kids who ride and those that want to ride can continue to receive support and guidance as they grow into their teenage years." -Austin McInerny, NICA President

To advance the YCA’s mission, the organization has partnered with UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business’ S3 Program to:

1. Build a comprehensive database of youth cycling organizations operating in the United States;

2. Conduct in-depth analyses of the leading national-level youth cycling organizations to understand their programs, participation, funding and operations and evaluate the
opportunities and challenges they face;

3. Create a national youth cycling network datamap that enables geographic awareness and organizational connectivity; and

4. Identify potential major funding opportunities to support youth cycling program
development both within and outside of the bicycling industry.

The partnership represents the first major effort to map the nationwide network of youth cycling organizations and programs and to understand the dynamics of the 12.5 million young riders between the ages of 6 and 17 that participate in cycling each year in the United States. While cycling is the most popular outdoor recreational activity, only 24.2% of this age demographic participate, according to the Outdoor Industry Association 2016 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. The research data and analysis generated by the YCA/S3 project will help establish the national network of youth cycling organizations and facilitate a programmatic approach to planning for the future and inspiring the next generation of young riders.

“This project is ultimately about getting more kids on bikes, getting more kids outside and getting more kids leading healthy active lifestyles. This is about the future of cycling in the United States and doing the work that needs to be done to move the needle from 24% participation to 100%.” -Nat Lopes, YCA Director of Strategy

Do you work with kids and bikes? Help us build out the most comprehensive national youth cycling database ever, by completing our YCA Survey and sharing it with other youth cycling-related organizations and programs.

Youth Cycling Alliance Project Partners and Sponsors: Special thanks to Planet Bike,
National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Trips For Kids, League of American Bicyclists, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Little Bellas, Project Bike Tech and the generous individual donors for making this project possible.

Neuroscience, Bikes, and Kids   by jay on Mar 23, 2017

At the 2017 National Bike Summit in Washington, DC earlier this month I learned about many new and innovative bike programs happening around the United States. One of the programs that caught my attention dealt with the intersection of neuroscience, bikes, and kids.

Mike Sinyard, founder of Specialized Bikes, suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a disorder that many kids in our communities struggle to overcome. Mike credits bicycling with helping him overcome the limitations imposed by ADHD. This allowed him to gain the life skills that eventually led him to found one of the largest bike companies in the United States.

Mike wanted to share the healing power of biking with other kids who suffer from ADHD, so he founded the Specialized Foundation’s Riding for Focus program. Riding for Focus uses lessons from neuroscience, physiology, curriculum design, and The League’s Smart Cycling program to design and implement an evidence based bike education program. This program provides mental and physical health, academic, and behavior benefits to participants.

Designed for PE teachers in schools, Riding for Focus conforms to national PE curriculum standards and integrates easily into existing curricula. The Specialized Foundation hopes their program will become the national standard for teaching biking in schools throughout the United States.

Rebuild your gear, shipping is free!   by kristin on Mar 23, 2017

All of us here at Planet Bike try to be conscious of our impact on the earth and we design our products to be easily rebuildable. We offer loads of small parts on our website (132 to be exact!) so that one missing bit doesn’t mean you have to throw something away and start over with a new product. The best part? We offer free shipping on all small parts.

That’s right, we really and truly want you to fix rather than replace and we want to make it easy and affordable to do that. Thus, we keep the prices on the parts reasonable and we don’t charge any shipping to send them to you.

Need an extra bracket for your tail light? We offer them here for $5.

Need one of those little bolts that holds your fender stays to the fender? We’ve sell those in a pack with a rubber cap and nut for $1.

Found a rack at a garage sale without any hardware? Here’s everything you need to get it installed on a bike for $4.

Maybe your old floor pump just doesn’t seal around the valve like it used to? Get a new updated auto head updated auto head for $7.

So, if you’re doing a little spring cleaning and find some Planet Bike gear in need of a little love, check out our small parts page and get it back up and running as good as new without breaking the bank.

2017 Wisconsin Ride Guide   by kristin on Mar 15, 2017

Bicycling plays a prominent role in our home state of Wisconsin. From the many rail trails and other paths that are prevalent through much of the state, to the numerous bicycle related industries that call Wisconsin home; we take bicycling seriously here in Wisconsin. We also have a terrific advocacy organization in the Wisconsin Bike Fed . They’ve really upped their game the last few years with their publications, which use stunning photography and well crafted content. With pages and a binding that are a step above most magazines, their issues earn a coveted spot on my living room end table. The Bike Fed just released their 2017 Wisconsin Ride Guide which is chock full of every bicycle related event in the state for the year as well as several engaging stories. It’s definitely worth paging through, whether in the gorgeous physical copy or the also striking online version. Take a look here and plan a trip to our fine state.

It's the little things   by jay on Mar 03, 2017

We all know the genius of the Dutch transportation engineers that have created a people-focused transportation system beloved by bicyclists, pedestrians and car drivers. It’s not just separated bike lanes and low car speeds that make cycling safe and fun in the Netherlands, it’s the little things too.

Today, I found one of those things:
The Dutch Reach. This small maneuver can make a BIG impact on making our streets safer with no investment in infrastructure. Check it out today, save someone’s life tomorrow!

We encourage you to support your local, state and national bike advocacy organizations working hard to create world class bicycle infrastructure (Find your organizations here).


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