Friends and supporters of a better George Washington Bridge:
Our campaign to modernize the George Washington Bridge pathways has seen an outpouring of support.
Of the 429 comments received by the Port Authority on their Capital Plan, 252 concerned the George Washington Bridge paths — more than the bus terminals and PATH combined. Of the 80 people who spoke at a meeting, 13 called for George Washington Bridge improvements.
Despite the outcry, the Port Authority board did not vote for expanded paths in its $32 billion capital budget. They’re holding firm to their preferred list of partial improvements: widened approaches and ramps in place of stairs. As a show of compromise, they agreed to improve sight lines at the towers — which will neither increase throughput nor cost the Port Authority anything. Yet some parties are touting this as a “big win for riders.”
Compared with our needs, these enhancements are small change. We’re still on track to see 9,000 cyclist crossings per day by 2024 and, if Walkway over the Hudson and projections for the New Tappan Zee are any indication, a potential influx of walkers. The Port Authority’s improvements will not overcome the deficiencies of the grossly inadequate paths.
With hundreds of millions of dollars in cycle tourism, public health and resiliency at stake, we will continue to press for a proper facility. I am currently researching next steps and welcome all feedback, suggestions, resources or contacts.
Sincere thanks to all of you who contacted the Port Authority, spoke out at a board meeting, discussed the issue with others, or contributed in other ways.
PS> If you haven’t emailed the PA and Governor, it’s still useful to do so.
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Streets Blog NYC chimed in too.
Neile, thanks for spearheading this advocacy work to improve bike travel on the George Washington Bridge, starting when you were president of the New York Cycle Club. I wish more riders and clubs understood that they may live or die depending on the success of their own bicycle advocacy.
GWB and then some,
Robert and an HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx in Dutchess and Columbia County, NY.[Reprint of Robert’s personal review, originally posted on Bentrider On-line.]
Positive aspects: Folds quickly and easily, aerodynamic and fast, full suspension, great high-speed handling, accessories look great.
Negative aspects: Optional under-seat steering upgrade requires a skilled rider.
First, I should reveal that I’m in the industry — I’m an HP Velotechnik dealer in New York City. However, I’m also a happy owner of a Grasshopper fx (“GH fx” or just “GH”), which serves as my “luxury” urban ride. Like everyone in New York, I don’t have any extra space; I store my Grasshopper in my home office. If I want to take a bent with me on the train or bus, the GH fx’s fast fold and carrying bag are ideal. Also, to grab my space on the street, I like a fast ride with nimble, positive handling. And since I have to lift and carry the bike any time I go out — down/up the stairs of my apartment building, down the stairs to train platforms, wedge it into elevators, etc. — a light and compact bent is a good bent, too. Lastly, I ride in all weather, year-round, and need to carry cargo, so strong, well-designed racks, fenders and light systems are a must.
The Fold: quick and easy.
Another reviewer on Bentrider Online has criticized the folding mechanism, but I can’t imagine what the gripe could be. I like it. And I know more than just a little about folding bikes — I also own a Brompton folding upright, possibly the world’s most successful folding bike, and a Montague folding MTB, which, in my hands, is possibly the world’s most abused folding bike. The Grasshopper (in my hands) folds as well as any of them — easily, quickly, smoothly and intuitively. The frame is stiff and straight with a strong hinge design. Ride quality is that of a top-end fold-less bent. And because it fits into a bag, I can carry it onto trains or buses as luggage. In other words, it’s a true folding bike in every way (though not as small as a Brompton).
Aerodynamic: Fast on the flats and downs, slightly slower uphill.
People are often surprised to learn that the seat height on a GH fx is 5″ lower than the bottom bracket which, with the dual 20” wheels, provides a moderately low center of gravity. In spite of this fairly aggressive design, the seat height of 21” and the appropriate front-end geometry make this a full-fledged touring and commuting bent. The GH fx is fast on the flats and stable at speed, even when fully loaded. My machine has the optional under-seat steering, but the standard GH fx comes with aerodynamic above-seat steering. Sometimes I wish I had the speed and turning advantage of above seat steering, but I like the relaxed comfort of USS. It’s a toss up.
It goes without saying that it’s hard, slow work pedaling a bent up a long steep hill. Add to this that the GH fx, like any dual 20″ bent, is additionally challenging to balance at slow speeds, like 3 – 5 mph. Some novice riders might benefit from the stability provided by the gyroscopic action of a big rear wheel (such as on a HPV Street Machine), instead of the GH’s small rear wheel. However, in my experience, the GH handles better on hill climbs than other small-wheeled bents, and, at any rate, as you become skilled and stronger, hill climbing only gets easier. (For context, when I talk about hills, I’m referring to 7 to 12 degree climbs.)
Handling at speed.
At normal and high speeds, the GH fx handles like any HP Velotechnik — it’s positively awesome. With an intuitive and stable ride, and a moderately low center of gravity, it feels secure and responsive on the turns. It’s an unforgettable riding experience.
At low speeds, it’s fine, but the optional under-seat steering (“USS”) upgrade on the GH fx puts a fly in the ointment. As a result, unless you really must have USS on the GH fx, or are an experienced rider, I’d recommend choosing the standard above-seat steering configuration.
Here’s what you need to know about the under-seat steering configuration on the GH fx. First, the ointment: everything about the bike is outstanding, just as you’d expect from the minds behind HP Velotechnik. But, as is normal with USS (but admittedly frustrating), there’s a limit to how sharply you can turn at slow speed before the handlebar (or your hand) hits the seat. Therefore, when you need to make a particularly sharp turn, you need a little momentum (and good balance) so you can bank into a sharp turn.
For me personally, it rarely creates problems in normal New York City riding, which is full of 90-degree turns at intersections, fast starts and sudden stops. The only time I find it truly irritating is when I need to ride at walking speed around obstacles like bridge stanchions (or tourists) or when stopping at a red light where I also need to make a close right angle turn (in this last case, I simply pick up the bike and pivot). Mind you, this is a common issue with under-seat steering bents as well as long wheelbase bents, so admittedly I’m nitpicking an otherwise phenomenal bent.
All in all, this means the handling of the Grasshopper fx has a longer learning curve than other HP Velotechnik bents. The balance issue caused by the two 20” wheels is no big deal and simply requires time in the saddle. The limitations of the under-seat steering option are easiest resolved by simply ordering the standard above-seat configuration or…putting in time and practicing your handling skills.
One important note is NOT to order the ErgoMesh seat with the under-seat steering Grasshopper fx; stick with the BodyLink seat. I’ve ridden about 200 miles on a Grasshopper fx with USS and the Ergo Mesh seat and have tried to figure out if there’s a satisfactory way to make it work; I can not recommend it at all. The handlebars contact the seat too early, causing a significantly wider turning radius compared to the Body Link seat.
Weight-weenies be gone: this is what a high-quality, fully-suspended, folding bike weighs. (My Brompton weighs 31 lbs.)
I can lift the Grasshopper fx with one hand, so I don’t really consider its 33.75 lbs. to be heavy. Still, for a fully-suspended, touring, folding bent, rated to carry 275 lbs. and designed for fully-loaded touring and commuting, it would be hard to find the excess weight (maybe a half-pound could be knocked off the drive train and wheels of the stock build). It is unreasonable to compare this type of machine to a 26-pound non-suspended, non-folding Volae Team, for example. Good rear suspension adds weight as do front shocks. Solid, high-quality folding mechanisms add weight. And touring/commuting bikes, as a rule, are over-built to withstand punishing back roads and still keep rolling.
Comparing the GH fx to my tiny, unsuspended Brompton, which weighs about 31 lbs. (with hub dynamo), or my Surly Cross-Check (diamond frame) which weighs about 30 lbs., I can’t consider the 33.75 lbs. Grasshopper fx to be heavy, especially for a bent. Does it make me work harder while riding up a hill? Undoubtedly, but I don’t notice. And, at any rate, I’m happy to have full suspension and a quality build when I hit bad asphalt while ripping down the Catskills….
Options and accessories fit easily and perfectly.
The Grasshopper fx’s accessories attach neatly and elegantly, as you’d expect from HP Velotechnik. Fenders mount securely and look good. Racks install quickly, are incredibly strong, and look like they belong. The kickstand holds the bike firmly, even when fully loaded. The lights have appropriate mounting points and electrical cables can be run through the frame. The GH fx always looks stylish and classy and even lycra-clad roadies give it the “cool bike” salute.
Long and short, in skilled hands, whether in the above-seat steering config, or with under-seat steering, it’s an amazing ride that does everything, goes anywhere and folds easily to boot.
This just came in from the League of American Cyclists:
Have questions about Amtrak’s bike service? This is your chance to ask it!
Amtrak will hold an open house at the National Bike Summit, where Summit registrants can check out train cars with different types of bike accommodations (bring your bike!) and ask questions of Amtrak staff about bike access, specific routes and stations, and how to bring your bike on an Amtrak train.
If you aren’t coming to the Summit you can submit your questions for Amtrak here- https://www.
Amtrak will give written answers to all questions and the League of American Bicyclists will publish answers on our blog. (for those asking questions, we can also send answers directly to your email if you provide it in the survey)
So ask your questions!! https://www.surveymonkey.com/
HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs: comfortable, stable, easy to ride…and fast.
Review from Interbike, 2009 of the HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs 20.
The fully-suspended Scorpion fs rides like a dream. Amazingly, it also folds at no compromise to ride quality. When I made an appointment to test ride it at Interbike 2009, I expected it to be fun, fast, and generally very good, but the actual experience far exceeded anything I could have anticipated.
It reminded me of the first — second, third, fourth and 100th — time I drove a BMW car; I expected something special, but had no idea a car could be so responsive, smooth and capable. The Scorpion fs is the same. If you require exceptional quality, you will like this trike.
“Responsive” is the word for the Scorpion fs: fast acceleration, fast braking, smooth as silk, hugs the road, grips the turns at very high speed (and without lifting a wheel) and can brake quickly without raising the rear wheel. And all that means three crucial things: it handles properly in high performance situations; it’s safer; and you can ride up, down and sideways on fairly steep hills without flipping over (exactly like you want, but can rarely get).
Mind you, having said that, a strong and skilled rider — or a very incompetent rider — can lift a wheel during a very sharp high speed turn IF he/she tries very, very, very hard, and intentionally does everything wrong and has enough upper body weight to offset what the engineering is designed to prevent. However, this took such extraordinary effort that it was ridiculous and I can’t recommend you try it. Simply, this is a stable bike due to advanced engineering. There’s not much you can do to mess it up. The bike also runs true: it holds a straight line without steering input and I could take my hands off the handle bars without the bike veering one way or the other. (Note: Hands-free cycling is unsafe on all bikes.)*
Like other HP Velotechnik machines, the Scorpion fs is an extraordinary vehicle. Being designed for riding where stability is critical (mountain and high speed riding especially), the center of gravity is low. However, the frame is sufficiently far off the ground that you have decent ground clearance. Average sized riders will find their eye level below that of a car driver but, in the tradition of HPV’s designs, the rider has a relatively upright posture, as seen in the photo. So, you’ll have excellent line of sight which provides both better safety as well as better sight-seeing.
For riders who expect to ride frequently in and among car traffic, the regular Scorpion or Scorpion fx may be better options, both of which are excellent trikes and position the rider with a higher head-level. However, if full suspension and performance are important to you — rough roads, off-road, high speeds, or you simply like the smoothness of a suspended ride — this is a bike you’ll love.
NB: These notes are NOT recommendations for inexperienced riders to attempt high-performance riding on this or any other bicycle. Likewise, I do not recommend hands-free riding on ANY bicycle. The test described here is merely useful for a professional to see whether a trike runs true and should only be done at slow speeds on a level surface.
• Presuming 14,000 cyclists per weekend access the GWB, that level of physical activity would prevent 21 deaths per year worth $195 million.• Widened paths could save more lives than anti-suicide barriers.
Our friend Neile Weissman has been working hard to ensure cyclists get improved access on the George Washington Bridge. This is important.
He writes us:
* * *
Between now and February 15, the Port Authority is taking public comments on its 10-year Capital Plan. Now is the chance to call on them to include wider paths on the George Washington Bridge.
Please take a few moments to email the PA and the Governor. Even a one-sentence email will make a difference.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo *important*
NJ Governor Chris Christie *important*
“I call upon the the Port Authority to include the upgrade of George Washington Bridge paths to national standards in its 10 Year Capital Plan, both for the safety of all users, as well as to support the growth of bicycling across the region.”
1/31 from 5-8PM at 4 World Trade Center (prep 1-2-3 minute versions of remarks)
Your NYC Councilmember to support Resolution 1072-2016
Starting in 2017 the Port Authority will undertake a $1.9 billion reconstruction and recabling of the George Washington Bridge. This will include ripping out and replacing the 1931-era 7’ paths.
With weekend use averaging 3700 cyclists per day and growing at 10% per year, this should be the opportunity for the PA to widen the paths to national standards, instead they plan to restore them as “sidewalks.”
Image at top. Cyclists’ Proposal for the GWB: (2) 10′ paths for cyclists. (2) 7′ paths for peds-runners on the upper level. 9′ high anti-suicide barrier. Rendering by Joseph Lertola.
Customers often ask what is special about the B&M lights I use, recommend and sell for HP Velotechniks and Cruzbikes. A picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps. The photo above shows the even, bright and wide throw of light from a Busch + Müller (B&M) Lumotec IQ-X. The cones are about 5 yards apart.
With its state of the art optics, the IQ-X from Busch + Müller has made it possible to break the 100 Lux barrier for Dynamo Headlights, making the IQ-X, at 100 Lux, the brightest dynamo powered bicycle headlight. In addition, this high-end headlight emits an extensively wide beam pattern that is superbly even, bright and wide.
In addition, the light assembly is as attractive — don’t you agree? — as your HP Velotechnik or Cruzbike bike or trike. The CNC alloy housing doubles as a heat sink, which helps keep the LEDs cooler and, therefore, brighter. Side visibility is ensured by allowing light to emit via the lateral slits in the housing. The light switch is embedded in a ring of blue light at the rear of the housing. Includes a sensor-controlled Ride Light and stand light.
- IQ-X Technology: 100 Lux
- CNC Alloy Housing
- Extensive Beam Pattern
- Close Range Light
- Side visibility light
- Sensor controlled DRL (day ride light)
- Stand light
- Multi-joint Bracket
- Switch Off/Senso
- Screw on reflector
For more information, visit the B&M website.
A customer recently wrote me with several questions about a configuration for a new HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx. If you too are considering buying a Grasshopper fx, you may be interested in our notes.
Hi D__ M____,
My answers to your Q’s below, marked “RM.”
>>I’m a little concerned that I may need the rear rack (sooner or later) for more storage capacity. Is it possible to order that separately later on? For that matter, how about adding the low-rider later on in case I do decide to try a tour/trip?
>>If these racks can be separately ordered later, how difficult is to add them later? Is that something I could do myself or would it require a mechanic?
Yes, you can order the rear- and low-rider rack later, as an add-on.
They are surprisingly tricky to install. I recommend you ask the dealer to do the work.
>>In addition, would adding a rear rack later (if possible) affect the rear light, which HP Velo installs on the back of the rack?
If you order a light system WITHOUT the rear rack, the light is mounted on the back of the seat. That rear light may optionally be moved and remounted on the rear of the rack after a rear rack is installed. Whether that re-mounting is easy depends on how much wiring the factory left when originally installing the light to the back of the seat.
>> In terms of suspension, is it overkill to upgrade that in case I occasionally use more weight capacity than 100kg on both back and front? Is it damaging in some way to almost always under load the suspension?
No, it is not damaging to under load the suspension, but it would be damaging to OVER load it. I’d probably recommend ordering the suspension with the spring you’d use most of the time. If you decide to plan a tour or find yourself frequently carrying heavy items (groceries, hardware, bricks…), then I’d buy the harder springs at that time and install them in the suspension. The rear spring on the DNM DV22 shock is particularly easy to replace. This might suffice as your “heavy load” option if you are like many people and load their cargo on the rear rack, which mostly affects the rear shock.
Just some notes,
I pronounce it like the people at the company in question: “sram.” One syllable. Not “s-ram,” two syllables.
Like the guy in this video introducing SRAM’s Red wireless derailer system.