Boca FAU Students: Get a Bicycle and Quit Whining

According to a Facebook group of whiny students, there is a parking problem at the FAU Boca Raton campus. Specifically, a car parking problem.

Fewer Than Five Miles From Campus? Get a Bike

Skip the car and bike to college. You'll be better for having done it.More than five, fewer than 15 miles? Get a nice bike.

This is Florida, not Minnesota. We don’t have four feet of snow on the ground for three months out of the year. Yeah, it’s hot, but the Florida Atlantic University campus has showers. Unlike Boulder, Colorado, there aren’t any uphill climbs on the way to the college. I doubt FAU’s Boca Raton campus is more than 20 feet above sea level. I know for a fact that the campus itself is flat because it was an Air Force base in World War II and many of the parking lots are old runways.

These are college students. They should be in relatively good shape able to bike five to ten miles. If they aren’t, well, a semester on the bicycle will help them get into better shape.

Parking at FAU Has Always Been Tough

When I was (briefly) a student at FAU in 1994-ish, students hated the parking situation. There was plenty of parking. In fact, most lots were more than half empty. The problem was the parking lots were former airplane landing strips and it wasn’t uncommon to have to walk a really long way to get from car to class.

I lived 22 miles north and was stuck driving a car. I envied the students who zipped right up to the front of the building where their class was held. No parking problem. No walking three-quarters of a mile. Just ride, hop and lock. Sweet.

Parking Garage Versus Bike Racks

A parking garage, the suggested solution, will cost a few million dollars at a time when the state university system is a billion or so dollars short. Bike racks, really nice covered bike racks or even bike lockers, would cost a tiny percentage of the cost of a parking garage.

Bike Parking in Aarhus Denmark, circa 1999.

As we can see in the above picture, 20 bicycles will fit in the space of one Cadillac Escalade.

You’re Skipping School? That’s Your Parking Protest?

You want to protest the lack of parking by simply not showing up to class? What does that accomplish? How is that type of protest sustainable? Are you just going to skip class until the parking problem is solved through expulsions? Good plan. Not.

If you really want to accomplish something, ride your bike to class. Instead of paying between $63 and $625 to park on campus, ride your bike. It’s free. No decal needed. (Motorcycles, too, require no parking decal.) If you live too far from campus to complete a bike-only commute, add in Tri-Rail and Palm-Tran.

Ryan Commutes By Bicycle in Palm Beach County

My buddy, Ryan, is in his late-20s and doesn’t own a car. I’m pretty sure he isn’t even licensed to drive. He managed to graduate from New College in Sarasota (Florida) while owning a bicycle. He managed to keep a job in Portland (Oregon) for two years on a bicycle. Now that he is back in Palm Beach County, he commutes to work on his Electra Townie.

If you need help planning your bike commute or want to whine about how you can’t commute by bicycle, please comment below.


NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB LED Bike Light Review

NiteRider MiNewt LED Headlight Summary: It works and it works well. I bought one. Eight of the 17 people I rode with last night own one. It’s bright, small, has a three-hour run time and costs under $100.

NiteRider MiNewt Versus NiteRider Trail Rat

For years I used the NiteRider Trail Rat. It was bright (thanks to its halogen bulb) but had a lousy run time (thanks to its halogen bulb). It cost about $100 new. The Trail Rat was the perfect size unlike the NiteRider Digital Pro 12E which was always too big.

NiteRider Trail Rat versus NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

1999 Technology Versus 2009 Technology

In every way, the MiNewt Mini-USB is superior to the Trail Rat.

NiteRider Trail Rat

  • Battery Life: One Hour
  • Weight: 1,055 grams
  • Size: Bigger
  • Charger: Chunky Wall Wart
  • Temperature: Hot
  • Light Color: Yellow/Orange

NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB

  • Battery Life: Three Hours
  • Weight: 172 grams
  • Size: Smaller
  • Charger: USB
  • Temperature: Cool
  • Light Color: White/Blue

MiNewt Weighs 883 Grams *LESS* and Runs Three Hours

I’m no weight weenie but the difference between the Trail Rat and MiNewt is amazing. As you can see from the above photo, the Trail Rat is a beast compared to the MiNewt. The weight difference is so startling, I had to break out the scale.

The NiteRider MiNewt weighs just 172 grams compared to the 1,055 grams of the NiteRider Trail Rat.

Did you see that? Look again. The MiNewt Mini-USB bike light weighs just 16% of what the Trail Rat weighs: 172 grams versus 1,055 grams.

USB Charger for NiteRider MiNewt Headlight

Use any standard mini-USB cable to charge your NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB LED headlight.This is more exciting than it sounds.

The MiNewt Mini-USB headlight charges from a standard miniature USB cable. Chances are, you already have such a cable for your digital camera or cell phone. Chances are, you already bring one when you travel. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to have to bring yet another charger when traveling. Best of all, if you do forget your cable, the hotel will probably have a spare. It is that universal.

Make Sure to Get the 2010 Model of the MiNewt Mini-USB

The earlier models had no charge indicator. You couldn’t tell if it was charged or not. The 2010 model has a light in the power switch. Red means charging. Green means full and ready to use. The recharge time is only four and a half hours so you know it will charge overnight but the indicator light is a good way to double-check.

Lots of stores are trying to pass off the older models as current. The earlier years are fine as lights but I would certainly expect to pay less for the model without the charge indicator light.

Support Your Local Bike Shop and Save Money

If you buy the NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB from Amazon, we make $5.64 at its current listed price of $94. The light is worth every bit of $94 and Palm Beach Bike Tours certainly appreciates it when you support us by ordering through our links.

On Your Mark Performance Center NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB RecieptStill, if you’re looking for a great deal, check your local bike shop.

My local bike shop, offers a 20% discount for club members. I paid $85.19 for the Niterider MiNewt ($9 off the Amazon price) and got to walk out of the store and use it that very night.

For the $35 membership fee, you get the 20% discount (if you spend more than $175 on your bike in a year, you’ll make your membership fee back), supported rides and nice folks who organize local events such as the Criterium Training Camps at the Camp Murphy Circuit Course and the Dyer Consequences Cyclocross in January.


Electra Townie Original 7D as Commuter Bike

Ryan Before His Electra Townie Original 7D Inaugural Run[Guest bike review by Son Matt]

It’s always fun to spend someone else’s money.

Ryan was looking for a commuter bike. He is just two miles from work, doesn’t own a car and doesn’t particularly want a car. (He’d probably take a car if it were given to him but, for sure, he doesn’t want car payments, car repairs, car insurance and all the overhead associated with owning a car.)

A Commuter Bike, Nothing Fancy

We looked at hybrid bikes — something with an upright seating position, but thinish (28c or 35c, for example) tires; something that would take fenders and a rack. He obviously didn’t need a full touring bike for his two-mile commute. He certainly didn’t want the full-suspension mountain bike that I see so many commuters riding around town.

In flat Florida, he didn’t need much in the way of gearing range. Internal gearing would be sweet but outside of his $400 or so price range. As a utility cyclist, he wanted something that was comfortable to ride in regular clothes as opposed to the most efficient transportation.

Electra Townie 7D

After test driving a few bikes (including a sweet Trek in the color of root beer), he decided on the Electra Townie 7D. Electra Townie Orignal 7D I’m sure you have seen the ads for the Electra Townie line of bikes. Their claim to fame is ‘flat foot’ technology: when you’re stopped, you can put your feet flat on the ground without leaving the seat.

More cruiser than road bike, more beach than mountain, the Electra Townie wouldn’t have been my first choice. (My utility bike is a Trek 7300.) The Townie is heavier than I’d like, and the tires are two inches wide for a lot of friction. Still, I gotta admit, it rides smooth and is really comfortable.

With a Shimano seven-speed rear derailleur (14-34 cassette), there is plenty of range for just about anywhere he’d like to go in South Florida. The lack of a front derailleur makes for less maintenance and allows for a nice factory-original chain guard.

Mandatory Accessories: Bell and Helmet

Ryan is going to hold off buying the fenders and rack but bought a nice bell and helmet. The Townie requires a non-standard rack for which they charge a king’s ransom (about twice what a standard rack costs). Ryan balked at buying the helmet until I pointed out that he keeps some rather important stuff in his head, and he spent a lot of money working his way toward a masters degree.

Inaugural Ride: Palm Beach Lake Trail

We hit the Palm Beach Lake Trail for the inaugural shakedown cruise. The weather was just about perfect. Ryan’s new Townie cruised straight and true. He is very pleased with the bike. I’ll follow up with him  after he’s gotten a few weeks of commuting under his belt to see if he is still just as happy.

Celebratory Bike Lift At Ride Completion

Ryan Does a Bike Power Lift After Completing the Ten-Mile Bike Ride

On What Do You Commute?

With Ken going on and on about his Surly Long Haul Trucker and the rest of us yapping about our carbon fiber this and fine Italian styling that, it’s easy to forget that most bikes on the road are used for utility and not touring or speeding along.

So, what’s your other bike? You know, the bike you actually use to take the kids to school, go to the grocery store or just take a ride over to the local pub. What bike to do you ride when you’re not riding your real bike?


Pimp Bike: Carson on His Big Wheel

From the files of pimp bikes, here is Carson:

Carson on his Pimp Big Wheel Bicycle

That is 12 inches in the back and 24 inches in the front. The bike’s back end is a Huffy but he didn’t know where the front end originated. The front brake isn’t connected.