This Green Old House: Introductions

Save to del.icio.us — tags green house energy windows
Add to Stumbleupon


Introducing This Green Old House – An ongoing column by James Turner

Greetings, and welcome to This Green Old House!

My name is James Turner and over the next months (and maybe years), I hope to share with you some of the strategies and challenges that we’ve faced keeping our 200 year old Colonial farmhouse as green as we can.

Our house was built in 1796 in southern New Hampshire, USA and has been expanded and renovated many times since. The house is huge around 3200 square feet with an attached ‘L’ outbuilding and a 6 stall barn with hayloft. We also own 5 acres of land, about half light forest. We purchased the house and land in 1994. I live here with my wife Bonnie and son Daniel, as well as two cats (Esmerelda the Evil Kitty and Sally O’Malley) and a beagle-lab mix named Virginia.

By profession I am a software engineer, and have an active second career as a freelance writer and editor. You can find examples of my writing at http://www.blackbear.biz/writing.html, and my editing at www.onlamp.com, where I’m site editor. But really, there are days when I think that this house is a third profession, because there are times when it seems like I spend all of my time trying to keep it together and us from going broke.

What This Column Will Be About.

I’m going to spend the first few columns giving you the chronology of James and Bonnie’s battle to cut our fuel bill, which started pretty much the day we moved in. For those of you who don’t know, New Hampshire can get quite cold in the winter, -30F (also -30C) is not uncommon for days at a time. As we are at the top of a rise, we also get brisk winds on occasion (alas, not brisk enough to make a wind turbine feasible.)

Our First Challenge: Staying Warm!

Our house was originally heated by fireplaces, we still have 5 plus an empty spot in our basement when a main heating fireplace once lived. At some point, it was converted to a boiler with radiators, and later to a forced hot water system with baseboard. When we first moved in, it was the middle of January, and the first thing we noticed (other than that the house was freezing a lot of the time) was that we were getting snow INSIDE the windows. The windows were vintage 1930s single pane storm windows, and many of them were cracked.

As soon as the spring came, we started pricing out replacement windows. With 22 windows to replace, price was obviously an issue, and we almost fainted when we got the first quote of over $650 per window — which would have worked out to around $13K! Given we had only paid $85K for the house, it was hard to swallow ponying up a sixth of the purchase price just to fix the windows.

We got quotes from some local contractors, and found a huge variation in price. The contractor we ended up with got us “Low E” argon filled triple pane windows for about $250 installed. Still a good piece of change times 22 windows, but we could deal with $5,500 with a lot more grace than $13,000.

Will Efficient Windows Solve Your Energy Problems? No.

It’s worth talking about windows for a sec, because some salespeople will try to convince you that they are a magic bullet that will fix all your energy problems. There’s no question that getting good energy efficient windows will cut down your heat signature, but don’t expect (as we did) that it’s going to cut your fuel bill in half. We eventually did cut our bill in half, but it was years and several projects down the line.

So, we entered winter #2 with new windows, no snow inside the house, and visions of fuel bills dancing in our heads. Unfortunately, the magic K factor on our oil bills didn’t change appreciably. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading a fuel oil bill, the K factor is derived by taking the degree days for a given period and dividing by the amount of fuel you used in the same period. It’s usually measure from delivery to delivery, and the higher the number is, the more efficiently you’re using your oil.

Personally, I think that whoever does the formulas for the fuel companies is smoking something, because when I’ve done the calculations it never comes out the same as their’s. This may explain why their “automatic delivery program” has left us out of oil in a cold house on many occasions.

In any event, I was a bit discouraged after the new windows didn’t take much of a bite out of our bill, and in the next column, we’ll continue the saga with the Quest for Insulation.

James Turner is site editor for O’Reilly’s ONLamp.com, a software engineer and the author of The Watering Hole comic strip. He has written for publications as diverse as the Christian Science Monitor, Processor, Linuxworld Magazine, Developer.com and WIRED Magazine.

Next Actions:

Are Your Attitudes Toward Global Warming Changing?

Save to del.icio.us — tags globalwarming polls environment
Add to Stumbleupon

A recent Poll by Gallup and Yale University is suggesting that the attitude of Americans toward Global Warming is changing — and changing fast.



For example:

  • 72% are either ‘Completely Convinced’ or ‘Mostly Convinced’ that “global warming is happening”.
  • 69% are convinced that Global Warming is caused either completely or partially by human activities. (57% believe that human activities are directly to blame.)
  • 67% Strongly favor “Requiring automakers to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trucks, and SUVs to 35 miles per gallon, even if it meant a new car would cost up to $500 more to buy.” An additional 12% “somewhat favor” this step.
  • 82% either ‘strongly favor’ or ‘somewhat favor’ “Requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20% of their electricity from wind, solar, or other renewable energy sources, even if it cost the average household an extra $100 a year.”

What do you think?

[poll=4]

Another interesting thing about this poll was how people believe they personally can impact Global Warming. Only 69% disagreed with the statement: “The actions of a single person won’t make any difference in reducing global warming.”

That is — about 70% of Americans believe that their personal actions can make a difference with regard to global warming.

What do you believe? Can your personal actions make a difference? Yes or no?

[poll=3]

If you answered no — please leave a comment telling us why you feel that way. If you answered Yes, tell us some of the steps your taking — and what you’d like to find more information on.

Next Actions:

Is Organic Too Expensive? How Much is Organic worth?

Save to del.icio.us — tags organic food environment
Add to Stumbleupon


Let’s Face it. Organic is Expensive.

When I marketed Organic food to few consumers, they nodded in agreement about the goodness and health benefits. But the one question that I squirmed at was, “I heard its expensive, what’s the difference?”. At the end of the day it all boils down to the economics.

Before I entered the business, people said, that the difference would be 20%. Its only when I got about selling Organic produce that I understood the true value. It shot up to be 50% to almost 100% more expensive than the regular produce.

I could not sell. The mere thought of a consumer, “I get food for half the price in the super store with air conditioner and parking facility”, cannot compete with my humble room that held wooden shelves and bamboo baskets of organic produce. The inquisitive ones never returned and the regulars picked up a packet or two to satisfy their guilt. For weeks I went under loss and could not bear the sight of rotting vegetables and bug infested grains. I closed.

What is the benefit of making something that’s good but will not sell locally? Export is not an option I wish not to take to promote being local.

When I started to look for reasons for the exorbitant prices here are a few causes:

Organic Food is not subsidized food

After World War II countries who took to Green Revolution satisfied hunger and famine with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Governmental policies till date stand in favour of them. So you might pay lesser for a regular veggie in the market but you still pay for the fertilizers through your taxes. There is no such subsidy for organic manure or bio-inputs.

It is labour intensive

Farmers do not use herbicides, so they control weeds by pulling them out. Many organic methods use lesser or no machinery and require great human care during seeding and plucking.

Low yields initially

Those who convert to Organic Farming lose 3 years as conversion period and yields reduce drastically. The soil is dead with chemicals that have killed essential micro-organisms. It takes that long to revive the earth and diminish the residual effect.

Misconception of niche audiences

A middle class man asked me to leave his grocery store and said “Take your organically grown rice and feed the elite, upper class who will agree with your ideologies”. People look at Organic Food as something that is delicate, precious and to be admired at a distance, but impractical for living.

Retailers are out to get your money – wrong!

Most retailers do not keep high margins on their products just because it is “Organic”. Infact those who sell Organic products know that they can never hope to make great profits and do it for the passion and dedication. When they buy it from the farmer, they procure it at the cost that you find on the store shelves of non-organic produce.

Hype on Organic

Right to the farmer level, the hype of Organic Food has also contributed to price increase, but these are proving to settled down with more competition and expansion of the market.

The need for change

Its easy to convert the soil to Organic but not the Human mind. We are conditioned to such sub-standards and mis-conceptions of science for years in the argument of feeding the masses. Organic Fields have proven this wrong with better yields. Governments are no longer dependable as they yield to the giants of agro-chemicals, bio-technology and eat up more cultivable lands for industries.

Consumerist behaviors have to change and its time we bow down to and support the producer who provides us good health.

I invite people to give suggestions to make this change happen.


Add to Stumbleupon

Next Actions:

Introducing ‘Tech Tuesday’!

Save to del.icio.us — tags technology greenIT toread environment
Add to Stumbleupon

(From Kevin — We are proud to launch a new feature today on 21st Century Citizen: Tech Tuesday! Please welcome Matt Murphy!)

About Me

I ‘discovered’ 21st Century Citizen via Twitter. That, perhaps, is a good indication of where my interests and background lay. My name is Matthew Murphy. I work as a business analyst, blogger, freelance writer, and web design consultant. In other words, I’m a geek. Besides the geek thing, I’m also passionate about environmental issues. I have been ever since I can remember.

I grew up with a strange dichotomy of technology and nature. My mother taught me all about lightning bugs and grasshoppers, and how the night crawlers come out after the rain. My father has always been a technologist. Back in the days when computers didn’t even have hard drives, he took computers to preschools and taught the kids to play educational games. Before most kids knew what a computer was, we had a dozen or so in our basement.

Attitudes & Goals

Many people seem to feel that technology is an enemy of the environment. In fact, I recently listened to a podcast in which a lawyer argued that the only way to save our planet was to devolve our technology. I don’t have the answer to the question of saving our planet. I don’t even think that there is just one answer. But I get angry when I hear things like this. You can’t blame what we’ve done or haven’t done on a thing or a tool. In fact, I’m quite certain that we need our technology if we really want to save the planet.

This column, Tech Tuesday, was really Kevin’s idea. I’m quite honored to be a part of 21st Century Citizen in this way. Kevin is giving me the opportunity to really dig in and focus on what is happening in the tech world that is important to the 21st Century Citizen community. Although my goals for this column will certainly evolve over time, there is one goal that will be in the forefront of my writing here. That is, to dissolve the ‘technology vs. the environment’ mentality.

Possibilities

Technology is a really broad topic. Where do you start? The hinge on your door is technology. Fire is technology. Technology impacts the environment in so many ways. We constantly hear stories of industrial waste being dumped or computers and electronics being shipped to countries like China instead of being recycled. While I worry about these things, I don’t know much more than you do about them. My background is in telecommunications and web applications, so the many of my articles talk about ways in which the internet influences how we approach the environment. I’m constantly amazed by the possibilities created by emerging web technologies. Educators are using Skype to reach far off students. The people in third world countries are using YouTube to show Westerners what life is really like for them. Even the candidates for the upcoming presidential election are leveraging the internet to extend their reach to a new class of voters. And did you know that the entire Live Earth concert was broadcast over the internet?

Once again, I’m honored to be able to reach out to the 21st Century Citizen community like this. I can’t wait to share my excitement with you. I hope that this column grows into a dialogue where we can trade ideas about how we can use technology to bring our world back in balance. I also invite you to visit my own blog, where I share my ideas on web technology, the environment, and, occasionally, my love of fine teas.

Next Actions:

What Every Citizen Needs to Know NOW About Collaborating with Others On-Line.

Save to del.icio.us — tags internet howto blogs collaboration wikis
Add to Stumbleupon


One of the primary ways that people are banding together to solve common problems is by using the Internet to collaborate with others. Whether the common problems they faces are around the world or down the block, there are great tools to use to help people get organized and work together to solve problems.

This guide will help you understand what the options are and how to move ahead and get organized!

Here are the 6 main categories of tools used and specific examples each and how to get started sing them.

1. E-Mail ‘mailing lists’, On-Line Groups and Forums

Early Internet users focussed primarily on e-mail listservers and newsgroups to share information and collaborate. Today, these two services are generally provided as combined services — meaning users can share information either by receiving e-mails every time someone posts an idea, or they can read posts left for the group through an on-line web interface similar to old-fashioned news groups.

Currently, the two most popular of these services are Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. They provide all the capabilities you need to:

  • Create groups and manage membership.
  • Send and receive e-mails to/from the group.
  • Browse and search or post new messages through a web-interface (similar to using a news group).

The Freecycle Network is an example of a group that’s been wildly successful in getting people to work together world-wide, yet they’re based primarily on local groups who are each using Yahoo Groups.

One problem with these on-line groups is that all group communications are public and stored in the archives at Yahoo and Google.

If your group does not want all their discussions to be publicly archived, a good option may be to use traditional e-mail list server software such as GNU Mailman or Majordomo. These options allow you to host the communications privately and have better control over the discussion archives, although they require reasonable technical skills to manage and maintain.

Many Internet hosting providers give you tools to create and manage e-mail discussion lists — and these can simplify things a lot if you want to host your own. For example, our hosting provider (Site5) gives you the ability to create and manage e-mail lists using GNU Mailman in their user control panel.

On-Line Forums are many times more random in scope than email lists or groups. But still, there are a powerful tool for collaborating with others. This is especially true for websites that want to help their readers share ideas and engage in general discussion.

Most Internet hosting providers provide free forum software as part of their basic hosting packages. Again, as an example our hosting provider (Site5) provides a couple options including phpBB2 and SMF.

2. Wikis

Wikis are great places to collaborate with other people and share important information. Wikipedia, of course, is the best know wiki on the Internet with literally millions of users world-wide.

Here are some other examples of great wikis:

  • DKosopedia
    A collaborative project focused on political and social change organized by the dailykos community.
  • Seacoast Eat Local
    A wiki put together by local bloggers in Southern New Hampshire, USA for people to share knowledge on local food options in their local area.
  • The FlatPlanetProject
    A wiki used by high school students to demonstrate the capabilities of working with others to organize and share information.

One of the really valuable things about wikis is that they stay around for a while. If you start a wiki then move on to other projects, someone else can come along a year later and build on your work. By getting the wiki started, you’ve organized at least part of the available knowledge and given the others a head start.

As with mail lists and groups, you can host your own wiki or find free ones on the Internet. Two of the examples here are built using the free wiki site Wkispaces. If you want to host your own wiki, we recommend starting here with this comparison of wiki software on Wikipedia.

It’s also important to consider the licensing terms you use for your wiki. To maximize the ability for you to cut/paste/copy other work into your wiki (as well as allow others to re-use your work in their projects) we recommend the GNU Free Documentation License. This license allows you, for example, to freely copy and reuse articles from Wikipedia, dailykos or any number of other sites that use the same license.

3. Blogs

One of the best ways to collaborate with others is to launch a blog with a team of dedicated individuals all posting on a specific topic. Some of the best examples of this are political blogs such as DailyKos, Think Progress and Little Green Footballs. These sites have literally hundreds of thousands (or millions) of readers who come there to share ideas, contribute thoughts and help to organize around ideas.

But many of the most effective blogs when it comes to organizing are much smaller and more focussed in nature. Here are just a couple great examples of groups of individuals blogging together for a common purpose:

Here are some other examples of great local blogs:

  • Seacoast Eat Local
    A group of individuals working to promote local food options in their area.
  • Blue Oregon
    A political blog focussed on local political issues in the state of Oregon
  • SM Baykeeper Blog
    A blog focussed on local environmental issues in Santa Monica, CA, USA. One recent post, for example, helped to Coastal Cleanup Day in and around Santa Monica.

While setting up your own hosted weblog isn’t that complicated if you’ve got the skills, many beginners Choose to just use the simple (and free!) services offered by Blogger.com or WordPress.com — either of these choices make it simple to setup and run your own blog quickly.

4. Skype Chat

Skype is a great communications tool for a number of reasons. First it’s free and allows for free calls around the world — but also because of it’s lesser-know chat capabilities.

Skype allows chats to be bookmarked and returned to at any later time. And the chats, once created, don’t die unless someone specifically kills them.

This allows for the creation of on-line chats where members can stop in any time and review messages they’ve missed. They can also drop in to say a few things, then leave — knowing the other chat members will pick their posts up when they get on-line.

This is especially good because it’s free and available world-wide. I personally work with groups of users on Skype chats that involve people from all over the world. We drop in and out and work together on ideas. It’s a great medium worth checking out.

5. On-line document development and sharing.

There are a number of ways to author and share documents on-line. The one I use most and like best is Google Documents. It’s easy to use, is always available, and makes it easy to share documents with other people.

I use this personally to work with other writers on posts to this weblog — even though those writers live in different states or around the world anywhere.

Another on-line document sharing service I’ve used that I liked a great deal is Backpack, from 37 Signals. Backpack provides another simple way to organize and share information as well as other features such as document storage, to do lists, and ways to organize information.

6. Basecamp

While my exposure to Basecamp (another 37 Signals product) has been minimal, I’ve seen enough to know it’s powerful and easy to use — although it’s not a free option. It’s good for larger groups that need to organize material to be delivered on a schedule.

Here are a couple quotes from individuals I know who are in love with the Basecamp:

Shea Gunther (StumbleGod and co-author of Ecotality Life):

“I’ve been using Basecamp for the past two years plus and frankly wouldn’t want to imagine my internet life without it. It’s an awesome tool for organizing teams of bloggers. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it just works.”

Chris Baskind (Author of LighterFootstep.com):

“We use Basecamp to handle all of our project planning for Vida Verde Media. One of the coolest uses we’ve come up with is coordinating our writer’s cooperative. We can set deadlines, track contributions, and share files — it really holds us together. It’s a great tool for decentralized workgroups.”

Next Actions:

How Peanut Butter helps the planet

Save to del.icio.us — tags food peanutbutter environment
Add to Stumbleupon


One of the daily decisions we all face is what to eat. How do we eat well and in a way that’s good for the environment — and at the same time have meals that are easy to fix and taste good?

One food that fits all this is the simple Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. According to the PB&J Campaign website:

  • Eating a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich instead of a grilled cheese or chicken sandwich saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s almost half of what you’d save if you switched to a Hybrid car.
  • The same sandwich will save 280 gallons of water since growing peanuts takes less water than livestock.
  • Growing peanuts also takes less land than animals — so your sandwich could help preserve 12-50 square feet of land from being used for cultivation.

I bet you didn’t realize that eating three Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches could have the same environmental impact as switching your showers to a low-flow shower head.

This is the type of information we want to share. How can we change our daily habits to have less environmental impact in ways that fit our busy lives? This one is simple. Eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Plus, they taste good and cost less.

In addition to being better for the environment, they’re also very healthy as long as you don’t eat too much. According to WebMD, peanut butter is high in fat, but those fats are relatively healthy ones. Everyone needs some fat in their diets — just not too much — and over 80% of the fats in peanut butter are the healthy kind.

According to the WebMD article, “It is hard to believe that something so wonderful could also be good for you.” Peanut butter “is chock full of good nutrition without those unhealthy trans fatty acids. The only limitation to enjoying peanut butter is the two-tablespoon portion size”

But what about all the fat and the less-healthy oils that sometimes get processed into commercial peanut butter? Does that make it bad? According to Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, that isn’t always the case. “Fresh ground is not necessarily better,” Bonci says. “The fat and calorie content are pretty much the same whether you grind your own or buy commercial peanut butter.”

Again, according to Bonci, the serving size is 2 tablespoons.

Next Actions:

Make It Real

Save to del.icio.us — tags quotes inspiration environment green photo
Add to Stumbleupon

We can all envision the world as a better place. Each of us can imagine a better life — better government, better living habits, better environment. We can all imagine these — but can we make them real?

“When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.”

–Pauline R. Kezer

Many of the challenges of the 21st Century will be big. Issues like Global Climate Change can seem so overwhelming. They can make you feel powerless. But there is still always hope.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

– Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand-born mountain climber and Antarctic Explorer. Famous for being first to successfully climb Mount Everest)

So take the better world of your imagination, and take a step today toward that place. Take some sort of action. Talk to someone, change a personal habit, write a letter. Do something.

Or better yet, join with a group of others who are like-minded. Commenting on this blog or others like it is a good way to start — its connects you with other people who, like you, have this better world in mind.

Remember, you as an individual can change the world — there are examples of the power of individuals everywhere. But banding together with others who are like-minded can magnify your impact.

So take a step today — a small step or a large step — but take some step. Take a step toward making the better world of your imagination real.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

– Lao Tzu (Chinese taoist Philosopher, founder of Taoism)

The 21st Century is here. The world is in our hands — and we are up to the challenges we face, I know it.

But to get to the better world of our imagination, we need to begin. We need to begin to make it real.

Next Actions:

The Six Classic Books on Organic Growing

Save to del.icio.us — tags organic books gardening toread environment
Add to Stumbleupon


It’s Sunday night and I’m on my laptop to begin this passionate subject – Organics!

My mind was whizzing with random topics and bits of information to write on this column. I realized then that the best way to start is with history. The past can reveal so many hidden secrets that the world is now re-discovering.

It is only a matter of a hundred years that such change has occurred — and thankfully grandmothers still exist to tell us to treat a cold with honey and basil!

For every problem we recognize with our current living system that is incompatible with nature, we need to look into old knowledge banks.

Our ancestors, wore clothes, cooked food, had shelter and traveled extensively, sans technology. We struggle to do the same in this generation of automatic, disposable culture without harming the environment.

Organic farming is rooted in ancient knowledge passed down through generations.
–David Suzuki

Hence I’m going to suggest some reading material to begin with. The books are by pioneers who were disturbed by the technological high and finally found their ways to a better and greener living.

Though the books are based on Agriculture, we need to understand where our food comes from and make right choices. Personally, reading them has taught me to respect the existence of matter, living and non-living in this chain called LIFE.

The One-Straw Revolution – Masanobu Fukoka
A Japanese Agricultural Scientist was in dilemma with his spiritual principles and the science he was practicing. He left his job and went back to his father’s farm and practiced Agriculture. The author takes you through a journey of revelation. He went on to become the Father of Natural Farming and Do-Nothing Farming. This book is a must for all those who wish to understand the difference of Organic and Conventional Agriculture.

Silent Spring – Rachel Carson
By the conventional practices and hazardous pesticides like DDT, we destroy several eco-systems that thrive and survive in farms. This natural historian writes on how pesticides have affected birds and the environment. She chose to call her book so, as the birds of the Spring season, were no longer heard chirping.

Ancient Roots, New Shoots : Endogenous Development in Practice – Bertus Haverkort, Katrien van ‘t Hooft & Wim Hiemstra (eds)
The Present global problems of poverty, ecological destruction and loss of cultural diversity call for innovative solutions. This book presents a number of field experiences of endogenous development, or development from within, in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. With a good balance of theory and practice, this book can be immensely useful to development practitioners, researchers and policy makers, especially in the fields of rural development, agriculture, natural resource management and health

An Agricultural Testament – Sir Albert Howard
The author worked in India when the country was still under the British Empire. He came to spread the use of chemical fertilizers but after 25 years, left with the understanding of nature. By working with poor farmers he understood a great deal of traditional farming practices in relation to the soil fertility that a healthy eco-system survives on.

Agriculture: An Introductory Reader – Rudolf Steiner
Steiner is the father of Bio-Dynamic Agriculture that revolves around the science of the cosmos that play a major role in the time crops are planted. This natural science is related to Vrikshayurveda (Sanskrit term to mean the Plant Life Science or the Science of Plant Life) – (Vriksha = tree + Ayur- Veda = science of life). In the Organic Revolution, Bio Dynamic Agriculture is gaining more ground and is the present trend.

Look to the Land – Lord Northbourne
Northbourne coined the word “Organic Farming”. Chapter 3 contains the differences between Organic Farming and Chemical farming. He teaches that the farm is an organism, a living entity that has a balanced organic life. The eco-system is interdependent and every creature has a role to play in this balance. He was inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work on Agriculture. To Northbourne Organic Agriculture determines the quality of food we eat, “Food of better quality is food which has vitality, individuality, freshness; food which is grown right, not only food that looks right; food which is effective as a vehicle of life and is not either mere stimulant or mere filling”

Next Actions:

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Commuting by Bicycle

Save to del.icio.us — tags bicycling, environment
Add to Stumbleupon


With the rise of oil prices and the growing ‘green’ movement, people everywhere are evaluating commuting to work by bicycle. And based on the response to our recent post “Choices: Bike or Drive?”, many of our readers are interested in commuting by bicycle.

As a result, we’ve put together this resource guide for anyone interested in learning about bicycling as a main method of transportation.

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”

– H.G. Wells

1. Kogswell Cycles

Kogswell makes great bikes patterned after the bikes used by newspaper delivery boys in Paris in the 1950′s. They’re sturdy, well-crafted and give a smoth ride over right terrain. (Note — the pictures in this post are from their gallery of pictures.)

2. Commute by Bike’s list of Commuter Bikes

Commute By Bike is a great site and provides this excellent list of bikes that are appropriate for commuting. A good resource.

3. The Wikipedia entry for Bicycle Commuting

As always, if you’re interested in a solid, fair resource for any topic, Wikipedia is one of the first places to look. If you don’t like it — edit it and make it better!

4. John G. Faughnan’s personal page of commuting by bicycle

This is a personal website page that’s been maintained for almost 10 years now. It has a good list of what to look for in a commuting bike as well as an extensive rundown of bike manufacturers to read through. Another excellent resource.

5. Ken Kifer’s Bike Pages

Another personal site, this one has some good information on estimating the number of people in America that rely on bikes as their primary transportation (looks like at least half a million based on 2000 census data).

6. How To Choose A Bicycle For Commuting

The eHow guide to choosing a commuting cycle. As with many eHow articles, the reader comments are the best part of the page. Also, the links to related articles may be worthwhile. Hopefully, it will improve over time.

7. Jennifer’s Bicycle Commuting Suggestions

Another personal page, but has a pretty good list of useful suggestions and things to think about when commuting by bike. A quick and useful read.

8. Harris Cyclery Articles about Bicycle Commuting and Lighting

Obviously if you’re going to commute you need good lighting. This page reviews a variety of lighting options.

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.
– Ernest Hemingway

9. Commuter Bicycle

Another personal resource page for commuting by bike. This one has a good set of links and information on different manufacturers as well as good information on other useful equipment.

10. Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips

An established site with a lot of good information on biking on general as well as specifically on commuting by bike.

11. The Sacramento Transportation Management Association’s page on Bicycle Commuting

California boasts the largest population of bicycle commuters in America, and this local government agency’s page reflects that. It’s a surprisingly rich page with a lot of good information.

12. Commute Bikes page on Nordic Group’s website

This looks like a personal page built by an employee (or an owner) on a business website. I included it in this list because it’s a great site. This person obviously did a huge amount of research into commuting by bike and has commuted by bike for a while. It’s definitely worth a read.

13. The Squidoo Page for Bicycle Commuting

A mid-level average Squidoo page. May have some useful information for some people.

14. Bike Forums

A busy forum for bikers. Information on commuting by bikes and all sorts of other biking topics.

15. Bicycle Commuting Guide from The Bicycling Federation of Wisconsin

A decent site, especially useful if you live in Wisconsin. May be a good model for others wanting to build similar sites in their area.

16. Bicycle Commuting Now

A near dead blog that was posted to extensively for a couple years from 2004-2006. Even though it’s no longer maintained, a lot of the older posts may be interesting to bicycle commuters.

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.
–John F. Kennedy

17. WikiHow’s page on How to Commute By Bicycle

A pretty solid WikiHow page. Worth taking a look at — has some good information.

18. Canada’s Commuter Challenge!

From their site: “Commuter Challenge is a national program that aims to increase the awareness of the benefits of sustainable commuting and to encourage Canadians to take action by walking, cycling, taking transit, carpooling or tele-working instead of driving alone to get work.”

In English and French.

19. The London Cycling Campaign

A site dedicated to promoting cycling in London as a means of commuting.

20. The Flickr Photo Group Commute By Bicycle

A Flickr photo group dedicated to those who commute by bike.

Next Actions:

A Simple Step You Can Take: View a Comparison between LED Lights and CFL Lights

Here’s a great youtube video that shows a comparison between regular light bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs and newer, super efficient LED light bulbs. Based on comments left on the site, I know that our readers are interested in learning more on LED Light bulbs.

This video provides a very simple comparison that’s easy to understand. What you’ll see is how dramatic the differences in energy uses are. You’ll also see a bit about the differences in types of light they give off.