Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Poetry and Drawing

Sisyphus of the Laundry, ink on paper, 7 x 5 inches

Two of my drawings were published with Pattie McCarthy's poems from genre scenes  in  Horseless Press Review 15.  You can read her poems here.

Self Portrait with Tools and an Ironing Board (at age 37), charcoal on paper, 18 x 12 inches. 

Pattie McCarthy is the author of four books from Apogee Press: Marybones, Table Alphabetical of

Hard Words, Verso, andbk of (h)rs.  A former Pew Fellow in the Arts, she teaches at Temple University and lives outside Philadelphia with her family.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Locking cargo bikes outside (a.k.a., The Bike Port)

Cityscape painting using a bakfiets for transport. 
This blog is for all things art, but I am going off on a bit of a tangent here because I needed a platform to post this.  Besides being artists, Jim and I are parents and urbanists. We do most of our transportation by bike and that includes taking kids to school, delivering artwork, and landscape painting trips.

I have a bakfiets. For those of you who don’t know, that is a Dutch box or cargo bike.  It’s 8 feet long and weighs 98 pounds empty, but it can carry up to four children and all kinds of other stuff.  Think two kids and four bags of groceries, or fill it with ice and beer and you’ve got a portable block party.   I often throw my easel box in there and cycle off to find cityscapes I want to paint, so it becomes a portable studio.

As we live in the city in a rowhouse and have no other option for storing this behemoth, we lock up the cargo bike outside in front of our house year-round.  Because of the weight, width and length of the bike we cannot make the tight turns it would take to put it inside the house or get it around into our tiny back yard.
The bike locked up in front of our rowhome. 
A couple of people who have recently acquired or are thinking of getting a cargo bike have asked about  our locking set-up.  This is how we do it:

(Please note: We own our house. If you are a renter and would like to create a similar arrangement you would need to talk to your landlord first.)

We originally explored several options, including putting motorcycle anchors in the sidewalk or installing our own bike rack.  But then our awesome neighbor Mike suggested and installed what he calls “The Bike Port” into the masonry at the front of our house.  He has one on his house for his Workman cycle. “The Bike Port” is a pad eye bolt used for mooring or dry-docking boats. Mike got them at Joe Fazzio Metals . This one is classed for 1000 pounds and has a 15-inch long shoulder and threaded end with a nut, and costs about $6.
The Bike Port
The Bike Port
Mike drilled through our front brick basement wall, applied some caulk for weather proofing to the house-facing side of the shoulder, and bolted it through the wall into our basement.   It is extremely rugged and only requires an occasional coat of rustproof paint (as you can see, we are overdue).

The Locks

The rear wheel has a Dutch AXA wheel lock which makes the rear wheel immovable when engaged; the front wheel is locked to the frame with a Kryptonite U-lock; and the frame is locked to the “port” with a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain with Disc Lock.  This represents around $250 worth of locks, but is money well spent – especially considering the value of the bike itself.

Locking up the front wheel. The shaft that turns the front wheel sandwiches the lock and keeps it from lifting over the frame. 

Locking to the Port
In bad weather, we cover the bike with a motorcycle cover that has a leash and padlock.
All the locks are not a barrier to riding. We can lock and unlock quickly, and then just stow all of the locks and chain in the cargo box in order to lock up at our next location.   When everything is in place, somebody would have to be extremely motivated and equipped with cutting torches and a couple of stout dudes to carry it away in order to steal this bike.  The only drawbacks are, we have had a little trouble with a local kid “tagging” the cargo box and we have to do some rust and weather protection to the bike frame and box every spring.

Bike with motorcycle cover for bad weather.

Bike locks won't make your bike 100% theft-proof, but you can do everything you can to slow down a thief or make it not worth the effort. I have the bike's serial number written down, I have made my bike unique by adding bumper stickers, I have lots of photos of me riding or standing next to the bike, so I can prove it's mine in the event the bike is ever stolen and recovered or presented for resale. 

Now back to art. (Later I will do a post on keeping four bikes in the living room of a 16-foot wide row home)

Other useful information on locks and more here.
More on family biking