CURRENT POSTING STATUS weekly monthly irregular none occasionally 1-3 3-5 5-7 weekdays only weekends only anyday

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Final distribution of the paper zine version of bcn has taken place over the last few days. Copies have been dropped off at :
Neato Burrito locations in both Harrisburg (2nd Street) and New Cumberland
Avatar's natural foods grocery in New Cumberland
Midtown Cinema on Reilly St in Harrisburg, and
Bushey's Cycling in Lemoyne.

Please support these businesses and institutions that support biking and cycle commuting.

Unfortunately, I was pretty much turned away from the Downtown Harrisburg branch of the Dauphin County Library System. I was polite and asked to post my zines in the entryway where lots of other brochures and posts were located (maybe next time I shouldn't ask). I was told that it had to be a non-profit only, which I am though not officially, and then when I showed my zine and described it, I was told no. And when I asked "why?", was told that there was no space, which was clearly not the case. I then succeeded in getting a copy placed aside for the director to look at, but haven't heard anything in the last week. What a community institution huh?

Song of the Day: "Take It to the Limit" by The Eagles

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


It almost seems as if all the work I have done over the last year trying to advocate for bicycle commuting, and trying to educate the few I may have been able to reach, has been useless, as continuously on a day-to-day basis I am outnumbered by bicyclists who are flagrantly disregarding the rules of the road. I can't overcome these bad examples it seems, and I have to face the numerous car operaters daily who think I should be on the sidewalk, who have animosity towards me because of the rudeness of numerous bicyclists on the roadway, and who don't understand how they should act towards me because of the overpowering number of bad examples they see constantly.

Today, I was sitting at a crosswalk preparing to cross to the sidewalk opposite which parallels a twisting backed-up section of shoulderless roadway I use during rush hour, when up from the side of me out of nowhere appears a bicyclist who: 1) obviously moved past the long line of stopped cars by passing on the right on a shoulderless bridge, thus causing safety issues for himself and the car operaters who aren't expecting anything on thier right in this situation; and then 2) he proceeds to cross the intersection right through a red light, with total disregard for the road rules. Somebody help me here please!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


You may have noticed the re-construction of the Harvey Taylor Bridge over the past year (you couldn't have missed it if you spent any time in and through Harrisburg). I don't know what the Bridge and the adjoining ped ways looked like or were designed like before the re-construction, because I moved here during the event, but I had the opportunity to explore the bridge recently and was pleased to see that the adjoining ped ways were wide enough for two, even if one of those two were bikes. And the surface of the ped ways even lets us know that. Unfortunately some of the half-hearted attempts at laying down a layer of some sort of concreteish material in the form of a biker and a walker are already starting to fall apart. The nice bright yellow dividing line down the middle of the pathway however, is strong and clear, and should leave no doubt in anyone's mind that they shouldn't walk or ride down the middle of this space. That's good news for all of us that often wonder what the person in front of us is going to do when we start to pass and give the old "passing!" shout out. Also good news is the substantial barrier dividing the ped way from the roadway, security for sure. Overall, I like crossing the H.T. Bridge more so than the Market or Walnut as it gives one a gloriously epic feeling, being higher up and looking upriver at a view of unbroken river and islands, unequaled at the further downriver bridge crossings.

A long view of the Harvey Taylor Bridge into harrisburg with the rounded State Museum building seen in the background. The biker is Paul, whom I just met during our morning crossing of the HT Bridge. He had just started commuting recently, way to go Paul!

Here you can see what I mean as the little biker dude has already lost his head and part of his wheel.

That glorious view I mentioned earlier, unbroken and inspiring.

Thursday, April 22, 2004


I also bike daily 5 miles round trip to work at the Borough of Ephrata's WWTP. I am their Environmental Resource Manager. Have been riding since about 1998. It was hard for the first month or so but now I miss when I can't do it due to inclement weather or other commitments. I seem to have more energy & am more alert because of it. It seems foolish to get in a car to drive to the Rec Center when riding a
bike can do the same thing. (If I drive it takes me 7 min. vs. 15 min. on my bike) As traffic gets heaver I find I can even make better time than the cars. Yes, more people could do it if they wanted to.

My sons also have a commute story to share as they have the same distance (only in a
different direction) to school. It would take them an hour by bus or 10 minutes by bike. This may also save the school district money by not having to bus them, as we home school them, and they go straight to the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center at Brownstown.

Jay R. Snyder

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Take a gander at the new features of my little dear. All spruced up for spring, mostly, but could still use a general sweep down.

Here's a closeup of my shiny new left crank, and the still clean adaptor ring from the new Shimano bottom bracket I installed.

And in a similar vein, here's a close-up of the new chain I bought and installed yesterday. Nice and shiny, especially compared to the rusty (though still in one piece) cogs which closely resemble the patina of the old chain that I couldn't save from all the winter conditions.

My cool "Bikes not Bombs" sticker .

And my cool "Bikes are Traffic, not Targets" sticker; along with me new Flash Flag for safety.

bcn distribution continued today with copies placed at the Bridge Coffee House in New Cumberland, Mantis Gallery in Harrisburg, the Freehand Gallery in Lemoyne, and the New Cumberland Public Library.

Monday, April 19, 2004


I finally broke down today and bought a new chain, a Z-Chain brand, if that tells you anything. I tried and tried, I really did to save the old chain, though it was my faulty that it succumbed to the winter elements, but I couldn't get out some super tight links and it was in such dirty shape in general, that as soon as I put the new chain on, I noticed a 100% world of change. Shifting problems were not as big, the drive was quieter, and no chain jumping going on. I guess sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. The chain did come lubed up with a wet lube, and I think I like that better than the dry lube I had bought and was trying, though maybe thats just because of the change in chains.

I can now report that the paper zine version of bcn is available and is being distributed locally this week. It is basically a compilation of posts from this blog from January and February, as I've described before, but it is meant to advocate for bicycle commuting to a larger local audience. Hopefully in the spirit of zines, it will get passed around and recopied and shared, cause I could only afford to print up 100 copies at this time. If you would like to receive a copy to share with anyone just visit the link top-left column and you'll get set up. Today copies were left at Holmes' Bike shop, where I picked up my chain, and at the Cornerstone Coffeehouse in Camp Hill, just down the block from Holmes'. More stops on the way home tomorrow. 13 locations in all, 7 copies at each location, with a few in reserve for whatever pops up.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


Here's a shout out to support local and regional artists through WITF tv's Gallery 2004 Art Auction. All artists contribute thier items outright and the proceeds donate WITF tv, public television. My Sue donated too, check her item out here (Patchwork Set), and don't forget to bid for your favorite item on the site. You can catch the auction live on t.v. Friday 9-midnight, saturday noon to midnight and sunday noon to midnight.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


What did it take to almost get my Diamondback on the road again, when I was learning the repair procedures on my own, and doing them for the first time? Here we go.

First I used my Alien chain tool to remove a link and take off the chain. This was pretty simple actually, easier than putting the chain back on as you'll see later. With the chain removed I then proceeded to take off the crank arms as well. Finally, I used my new Shimano BB tool to remove the bottom bracket. This took a good little bit of leverage but I forced through and all came off good and clean. The bb was obviously shot, and I could clearly see the differenmce when the new part came in through my lbs 2 weeks later.

The weather turned bad and I brought the whole shebang inside to the top of the entry stairs which would become my workplace, sorry Sue, thanks for stepping over and around. I then used some Simple Green to clean the chain. I soaked it overnight, and through a clothes washing machine cycle while it sat on top and vibrated. Then I cleaned each side with the solution using an old toothbrush, finally rinsing off in a new solution of degreaser and water. I then let it air dry for 24 hours , during which time I installed my new bottom bracket.

After reading through the Barnette's manuals, I learned that I shouldn't grease the threads (specific to this Shimano bb), but should instead use loc-tite with my steel threads. The installation went smooth, and after torquing to the recommended tightness I then moved onto the cranks. This was pretty simple too, just remembering to start by trying the right crank in each of the four possible positions to determine the best fit for the chainline, and then also torquing to the recommended tightness.

Finally, I rethreaded the chain starting at the bottom of the rear derailleur, going through in a backward S and then up and swinging down through the front derailleur. Here is where an extra pair of hands was necessary. I couldn't hold the chain in place while I operated the chain tool by myself, so Sue held the chain while I positioned it then operated the tool, and the pin went smoothly back through the chain sides (there's a definite lack of proper terminology going on in my retelling here, sorry), even though the manual said this is often a difficult procedure.

So after a quick lube with some dry Finish Line, I took a spin around the block, and now I need a derailleur adjustment in the front, and possibly the back, but I think I'll know better once I adjust the front. Overall this wasn't that much work or concern, but it was magnified through having to order the bb, choosing to get some Simple Green from the store, having to work in the middle of the stairtop hallway because it's been so cold and wet out, and hauling in and then away my tools from the other areas of the apartment as they were needed and finished with. We'll call it a night at that and fill in more details as I finish up the adjustments, spring cleaning, sticker application, and new Flash Flag installation. Pictures, I promise.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Even though it's the cows stealing the show this year in Harrisburg, there are a number of bikes to check out around town too. So here is a little sharing of what you may appreciate, or what you may pass over, daily. I haven't gotten any shots this year yet of riders, cause I just haven't been ready with the camera, so here are some bikes at rest. I promise some action shots soon.

A pretty pair of bicycles outside a local art and framing store, sweet to look at, wonder if they are ridden?

A shot of a bicycle parked roadside against a light pole, through the cast iron rails of the downtown Dauphin County Library branch.

I think the street sign says it all about where a bike can take you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


If I could give one bit of advice to newbie commuters and DIY mechanics: Besides spending time in your lbs and asking lots of questions of your mechanic, besides searching through lots of on-line catalogs and bicycling sites and bookmarking your favorites, besides utilizing on-line communities such as bikeforums.net to thier fullest, besides getting a good repair manual for your home library, and besides just doing it; It would be to get your hands on a hard-copy paper tools and parts catalog with lots of pictures as soon as possible.

All of the afore-mentioned options are good choices, and of course I want to support paper free resources in favor of electronic and human as much as possible. But for me this isn't possible 100% and I wouldn't ask it to be so of anyone else. There is nothing in my mind like having a good fiberbound catalog in front of me that I can easily flip through and back and forth from page to page, whether in bed or at the breakfast table; and that I can see pictures of the tools I need, and of the parts that might be confusing me (a cog vs. a crank vs. a cartridge for example, might sound naive, but when your starting out into the details the learning curve is def there, and the terms are a part of it).

So just yesterday, after bike commuting for almost a year, and struggling with on-line searches for parts, stops at the lbs that are sometimes fruitless or inconvenient, and looking over my bike questioningly at times, my first bike parts and tools catalog came in the mail, bike tools etc., and I feel like a light bulb went on in my head after just one flip through. My visual mind meets my cognitive and it all starts to fall into place a little more for me; a dozen or more lubricants side-by-side on one page (and divided into wet and dry, with descriptions and tech hints); pages of fasteners that I often searched long minutes for at the hardware store, often not finding exactly what I was looking for as a replacement and having to instead substitute something that eventually worked, now all lined up and described and priced; and much much more. Do yourself a favor and pick up a good catalog today.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


I hope everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy this holiday weekend. As I wont be posting much in the next few days, here are a few links to tide you over.

a little blog I ran across the other day that details another person's commuting and transportation cycling tales.

PA River Sojourns
2004 Watershed Awareness Month
Two new blogs I am maintaining at work. I brought the blogging tool into our non-profit work world, and I hope it is successful, it's fun for me never-the-less. Check out our PA River Sojourn program in which we administer funding for statewide educational paddling trips; and 2004 Watershed Awareness Month in which we promote, advocate, and educate about watersheds in Pennsylvania. We incorporated both blogs as pop-ups, which I normally detest, but I think it works pretty well for the purpose and how we are using it. Let me know if you have any thoughts. Peace.

Song of the Day: "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby" by The Counting Crows

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

TAX TIME and HR 1265 

Posts will be light this week as I take evenings to sift through my taxes, and prepare for Uncle Sam. I don't mind paying taxes and I don't mind doing the paperwork, but it just seems a bit too complicated for the average citizen. I have a graduate degree and am good at reading comprehension, but it takes me forever to understand some of these rules and guidelines, and search down the different and necessary forms.

While we are talking about taxes, please take the time to learn more about House Bill 1265 which would extend the Bicycle Commuter Act's transportation fringe benefit in the tax code to bicycle commuters. We're talking a $65 per month tax break for bike commuters, which would easily cover regular bike commuting costs. And to be fair, it would only give the same benefits that are already available to car-poolers and mass-transit users.

Monday, April 05, 2004

LINK TO bcn GOES OUT TO 18,000+ 

I wrote and posted an article in my org's weekly newsletter last week that promotes bcn, but also details the connection between cars and non-point water pollution. Here's the text, and you can visit the actually newsletter site (and see a picture of me and my bike) by following the link below.

POWR Staffer Reduces Non-Point Water Pollution Through Bicycle Commuting

Watershed Programs Coordinator, Frank Raymond Cetera, bicycle commutes eight miles round-trip to POWR's downtown Harrisburg office from his apartment in New Cumberland. And in the process, reduces his contribution of oil, antifreeze, grease, and metals to the roadways, as well as emitted nitrogen and other contaminants that settle in water, from daily car use.

Cetera began bicycle commuting to work as a egular part of his daily routine when he moved into the Harrisburg Metro area last year. The initial rational was health, economic, and environmentally based. Cetera was able to get in 40 minutes of daily exercise (important within the boundaries of an office job) on his bike commute without having to visit a gym, and shave ten minutes off his commute had a car been used; he was able to save up to $50 per month in parking or transit fees and keep miles off his car; and he was able to reduce air pollution, noise pollution and urban congestion from his vehicle.

"However, I was surprised to learn just how much cars contribute to water pollution, as most think of the effects of cars on air pollution initially" says Cetera. According to the Environmental News Service, a population of 5 million can contribute enough toxic run-off from streets and driveways yearly to equal a major oil tanker spill. "We all contribute to this run-off if we drive a car, even if we regularly keep our cars maintained and don't throw used motor oil down the storm drains" Cetera continues.

Oil, petroleum products, trace metals, and other toxins from automobiles kill fish, plants, aquatic life and even people. One quart of oil will contaminate thousands of gallons of water, so keeping every little bit out of the water supply is a good thing. You can help by: reducing car use, and car pooling; monitoring and repairing any leaks; and always taking used oil, batteries and other fluids to a repair shop for proper disposal. And of course by riding your bicycle.

"Trips under 5 miles are doable for everyone, and there are many resources on the web and in your library for learning proper cycling techniques in traffic, and for motivation and information to get you started" according to Cetera's experience. Cetera even has his own website, www.bicyclecommutingnow.blogspot.com that chronicles his bicycle commuting experiences.

Go to http://www.pawatersheds.org/WWeekly/issue.asp?ID=190

Friday, April 02, 2004


You may have noticed some new residents of Harrisburg during your commute over the last few days. The cows on parade art exhibit has spread throughout town. These cow statues designed by local artists are of many themes. The whole shebang started, I believe, with an exhibit at the Whitaker Center last year, and then featured the dropping of a strawberry cow on New Year's Eve. Well now that the weather has turned to spring you can find these cows everywhere!

And I wonder if they planned it this way or if the two cows I came across directly today are just a random occurrence, but both seemed to have thier location matched with their theme.

This bad boy is painted as a Harrisburg city theme with landmarks and buildings from town as it sits at the City Island Walnut St ped bridge entrance to the city, and looks on at the downtown.

This puppy is covered in pennies and other pretty "gem" stones, and is right in front of a bank on 2nd Street downtown.

Now cows are all good and dandy. There is a dairy culture in this part of PA with farms and such. And this exhibit is a lot of fun, I already see people stopping and checking out multiple cows along thier way, great.But just think what this type of thing could do for say, bicycles? What if the city decided to promote bicycling, and sponsored a parade of bikes throughout town. Artists could either design original bikes, or give custom paint jobs to beaters and other bikes found around town. (Here's an example) Then they could be placed throughout to be admired by all. Maybe this is too obvious to me, killing two birds with one stone. Offering a unique and original art exhibit, while promoting an activity that could lessen downtown parking and congestion issues. But I guess I do have a vested interest in such an idea. Does anyone on city council or government in town remember riding bikes as a kid? Does anyone want the children and commuters of our city and our futures to be able to enjoy the same thing? Let's start now. Promote bicycling now, bicycle commuting now! Bikes on Parade in 2004-2005!

Thursday, April 01, 2004


"...the cost of our not walking as a nation—and living a sedentary lifestyle—is staggering. Obesity and poor physical fitness are rapidly catching up to smoking as the leading causes of preventable death in the United States [this is not an April Fool's joke]. While moderate exercise can have big benefits, most of us are nowhere near meeting the minimum recommendation of 30 minutes a day.

That's where Prevention, America on the Move, the American Podiatric Medical Association, and the US Department of Health and Human Services come in. Together we're asking you to join our campaign to make Friday, April 2, the official Walk to Work Day for all Americans. "The science continues to show that walking just 30 minutes a day can have a real, positive effect on your health," says Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. "I'm encouraging every American to walk to work on Friday, April 2. For those of you who live too far away to walk to work, find another time to walk during the day. Walk before work, walk after work, walk during your lunch break, or if you smoke, give up your smoke break and go for a walk—without your cigarettes. And take a coworker with you. Just by taking a few simple steps we can all live healthier, happier, longer lives."

If you park downtown, park on City Island and walk, take lunch break out along the river in Riverfront Park and look at all the danged painted cows, walk up and down the steps in your office building instead of using the elevator (or if your afraid of the rain)!

WWW bicyclecommutingnow

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