More Chandeliers From Recycled Bicycle Parts

light-1Similar to a post I did back in October 2012, this could easily belong in my Tweet of the Day, Eyecatchers, or Upcycling series…

…AND, both posts involve chandeliers made from recycled bicycle parts…

…AND, both posts were sourced from tweets by Christopher Jobson at Colossal.

…AND, since Fish & Bicycles LOVES all things bicycle, this was a no-brainer.

The amazing bike part lighting here, titled Ballroom Luminoso, the work of Joe O’Connell and Blessing Hancock, is installed in a highway underpass in San Antonio, Texas, taking street art to a whole other level.

Via Colossal:

Ballroom Luminoso references the area’s past, present, and future in the design of its intricately detailed medallions. The images in the medallions draw on the community’s agricultural history, strong Hispanic heritage, and burgeoning environmental movement. The medallions are a play on the iconography of La Loteria, which has become a touchstone of Hispanic culture. Utilizing traditional tropes like La Escalera (the Ladder), La Rosa (the Rose), and La Sandía (the Watermelon), the piece alludes to the neighborhood’s farming roots and horticultural achievements. Each character playfully rides a bike acting as a metaphor for the neighborhood’s environmental progress, its concurrent eco-restoration projects, and its developing cycling culture.

Anyway, here are some more photos of this amazing work:





Upcycling: Awesome Piano Bike!

piano-bikeAs a blogger who LOVES bicycles, and who has the word bicycle in the title of his blog, how can I not write about this?


What would you do if you had an old $80 piano and a big tricycle? Would you throw them out? Not if you were San Francisco musician Gary Skaggs. He turned this seemingly useless combo into gold…

Since 2008, Skaggs has been taking his bike to San Francisco’s hopping tourist area, the Embarcadero, to perform. And he gets lots of tips. Take that, recession/supposed recovery!

Upcycling at it’s finest, zero emission transportation, exercise, and musical entertainment all in one package!

That’s awesomeness.

Here’s a video about Gary and his wondeful piano bike. Pedal on, Gary!

Best of Fish & Bicycles: Slow Down and Slow Bike

Originally Published: August 3, 2011

Just came across a fun piece at that introduced me to the Slow Bicycle Movement:

Copenhagenizing Has Another Name: The Slow Bike Movement

We have talked about “Copenhagenizing“, Mikael Colville-Anderson’s term for learning to ride bikes like they do in Copenhagen, in street clothes, at a comfortable pace, usually without a helmet. Andrew Sullivan points us to the American version, where it has become part of the Slow Movement, and is now called Slow Biking.

The whole blog post and the pages it links to are totally worth the time to read, and it all really resonated with me.

Often, when I tell people that I ride my bicycle to work everyday, I’m asked if I’m into road cycling or mountain biking. And, when I answer that I’m not, they seem perplexed. For some, it’s hard to understand why anyone would ride a bicycle just for purposes of transportation. For them, cycling is all about getting stronger and stronger, going farther and farther, getting faster and faster, either or all of those. For them, that kinda thing is fun, and I respect that. (I think of my friend and fellow blogger Mike McQuaide, who does things like riding up the last eight miles of Mt. Baker Highway four times in one day, at a total elevation gain of 9,200 feet. Just.Wow.)

For me, however, while I was quite the athlete and participated in numerous sports when I was younger, I’m no longer interested. I absolutely need and want exercise, I desire to be healthy and active. But, commuting to work on my bicycle or cycling around town on errands, hiking (not mountaineering) to a modest peak or ridge for a nice view, or paddling a kayak on calm or, at most, lightly-choppy water, keeping an eye out for harbor seals, is my idea of fun, and the fact that it just happens to be good fitness is merely icing on the cake, to use a terribly incongruous figure of speech.

There’s this guy I know, who also commutes by bicycle to our workplace at Western Washington University, a campus situated atop a fairly substantial hill, he’s considerably older than me, and I didn’t think it was possible to pedal as slowly as he does on the hill without gravity pulling him back down.

And yet, he doesn’t appear to be laboring at all. Rather, he seems to be completely at peace and content, no matter the weather, day in and day out, and when I occasionally see him locking up his bike on campus in the morning he’s not breathing hard and he looks like he hasn’t broken a sweat.

It seems to me that in these modern times, in this, to borrow a phrase from Douglas Coupland, accelerated culture, the slow bicycle movement can bring some balance to one’s life. You don’t have to commute to work every day, or any day for that matter. All you have to do is get on your bike and ride, slowly, and breathe normally, take in your surroundings, smile at the people you pass by, stop to say hello even, or ask them to join you.

Now, if I could only leave my house about 10 minutes earlier everyday, I could practice what I’m preaching and not have to rush to work, inevitably arriving sweaty and gasping for breath.

It really is so very Zen.

Avid Bicyclist (Me): Thanks, Volvo!

Volvo-cyclist-brakeNow, THIS is very cool!

Via Inhabitat:

About half of all cyclists killed in European traffic die from collisions with a car, and Volvo’s new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology promises to lower that figure. The system consists of a radar unit that’s built into the car’s grille, and a camera situated in front of the interior rear-view mirror. The radar’s job is to detect objects in front of the car and to determine how far away they are, while the camera system is tasked with identifying what those objects are.

A cyclist swerving out in front of a moving car is one of the scenarios that the system can help protect against. A sensor system scans the road in front of the car, and if it detects a cyclist traveling in the same direction as the car swerving in front of it, the brakes will be applied.

As a daily bicycle commuter of many years, I know how all too well how dangerous it can be out on the roads, with most auto drivers more annoyed by cyclists than they are interested in sharing the road.

Yes, there’s more that bicycle riders can do in terms of safety: using hand signals, using ample lights at night, following the rules of the road, etc. But, it doesn’t take an engineer to see that, simply in terms of mass and speed, bicycles will always lose in a collision with a car. Therefore, bicycles have a baseline disadvantage on the road, and I believe this justifies asking car manufacturers and car drivers to take the lead in considering the safety of cyclists.

Thanks, Volvo!

Stuff We Need: Cardboard Bike Helmets!

kraniumToday’s Stuff We Need installment is a great story.

I mean any story involving bicycles, head injuries, woodpeckers and cardboard HAS to be good, right?


When Anirudha Surabhi was a grad student at the Royal College of Art in London, he was in a bike accident. Even though it was a minor crash, and Surabhi was wearing an expensive helmet, the next day he learned that he had a concussion. He spent three days in the hospital. He wondered why the helmet hadn’t worked—and decided to explore the problem for his thesis project.

It turns out that bike helmets are not as safe as they’re portrayed to be. Over the last few decades, Surabhi says, some helmets have gotten more aerodynamic and better-looking, but they haven’t gotten any better at protecting us from injuries.

As he began working on his design, Surabhi looked at the anatomy of a woodpecker for inspiration. When a woodpecker slams its beak into the trunk of a tree, the impact is cushioned by a special micro-structure between the beak and head. By mirroring that structure—after testing 150 different materials—Surabhi was able to create a helmet that can withstand three times greater impact than a standard helmet.

I’ve often pondered how woodpeckers do what they do! Seriously, the damage to the head and neck, you’d think, would be substantial. (Or, is there just not that much up there in those woodpecker skulls to protect?)

Anyway, questionable woodpecker technology aside, there’s the environmental impact angle of this bike helmet:

It’s also greener than the ubiquitous polystyrene foam liners. Foam, unsurprisingly, is not great for the environment; the manufacturing process is a health hazard, and it also creates hazardous waste. It’s also more energy-intensive to produce than cardboard. Surabhi used 100 percent recycled cardboard, which he says takes no electricity to produce at all.


VERY exciting that this helmet is already in production, and will be available here in the U.S. next year.


Check out this cool video on Anirudha Surabhi and his awesome design:

Tweet of the Day: @Inhabitat

THIS is SO awesome!

I would definitely use something like this and hope that it makes it from design to the marketplace.

Stuff We Need: $20 Cardboard Bicycles

Image Source: SpokeNwheels

Yesterday, I posted the first new installment in my Stuff We Don’t Need series since December 2011. That post was bicycle-related, in that it was a critique of a $3,600 bookshelf that doubles as a bike rack.

But then, as for every right there’s a wrong, every left a right, north a south, black a white, yin a yang…

Today, I bring you the first new installment in my Stuff We Need series since March of this year.

And, it’s bicycle-related.

Via Engadget, ladies and gentlement, Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni’s $20 cardboard bicycle:

Now THAT is Stuff We Need. I would buy one in a second!

It’s cheap, durable, made with recycled materials, an eco-friendly alternative to the single occupancy fossil fuel powered vehicle, and it actually works! (See video below.)

Beyond the environmental angle, Gafni and his business partner, Nimrod Elmish, are truly a couple of philanthropy-minded menschen.

Via Reuters:

Elmish said the cardboard bikes would be made on largely automated production lines and would be supplemented by a workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled…

Elmish said the business model they had created meant that rebates for using “green” materials would entirely cancel out production costs and this could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries…

“In six months we will have completed planning the first production lines for an urban bike which will be assisted by an electric motor, a youth bike which will be a 2/3 size model for children in Africa, a balance bike for youngsters learning to ride, and a wheelchair that a non-profit organisation wants to build with our technology for Africa,” he said.

This is one of the best stories I’ve read lately, a positive, hopeful piece in a sea of news dominated by everything from the depressing to the horrific.

Check out this video on Izhar Gafni and his work. He’s quite an endearing fellow.

Stuff We Don’t Need: $3,600 Bookshelf Bike Rack

Bless me, readers, for I have sinned.

It’s been a LONG time, WAY too long, since my last installment of Stuff We Don’t Need, but when I read at Treehugger about the combination bike rack and bookshelf that you see here, cuz I love all things bicycle, I couldn’t pass on it.

First off, let me make it clear that I totally understand and have lived through the challenges of owning a bicycle while living in a small apartment. Especially in a rainy climate, like here in Bellingham, storing a bicycle outside adds the threat of rust to the threat of theft, and bringing it inside, well, there’s only so much room.

But, let’s break this down, shall we?

  • If someone lives in an apartment so small that space is an issue, will they really have $3,600 dollars to spend on this thing? … Yeah, didn’t think so.
  • Anyone who has ever lifted an adult-size bicycle in order to hang it on hooks like this would know that even the lightest bicycles (which are made of expensive materials, too expensive for people who can’t afford a $3,600 bookshelf bike rack), unless placed on the hook of this bookshelf bike rack with extreme care, will still likely cause the shelves to shake, resulting in a less than stable storage system for books and nicknacks.
  • Unless you are joyfully obsessive compulsive and enjoy wiping down your bicycle after each ride, bicycles, especially if you live in a rainy climate, like here in Bellingham, get really, really dirty. So, a white bookshelf bike rack, really?

(Caveat: Perhaps the black version of the bookshelf bike rack would address that last bullet.)

Listen, I appreciate the creativity that went into this thing, I’m a big fan of industrial design, but design that is impractical can be totally counterproductive, ultimately failing to meet the needs of actual customers.

In this case, despite any good intentions to help promote cycling as an eco-friendly form of transportation, it just doesn’t seem like the designer put much thought into what the actual experience of owning a bicycle is like. It is attractive, but if it gets dirty quickly or you tire of having to wipe down your bike all the time, and if books and nicknacks fall off easily, a $3,600 item could, all too soon, end up in a dumpster and then a landfill, essentially eliminating any eco-friendly outcome that may have been hoped for.

Tweet of the Day: Eyecatchers: Upcycling: Bicycle Parts Become Chandeliers

This post started as an installment for my Tweet of the Day series, because, given my oft-stated love of bicycles, I couldn’t pass up a bicycle-related tweet by Colossal‘s Christopher Jobson:

Then, I considered it for my Eycatchers series, given how cool the photos of these chandeliers (see more below) are:

But really, this post is truly best suited for my Upcycling series.

For, as artist Carolina Fontoura Alzaga explains in the video below, she has lofty goals for her work, goals that extend beyond the aesthetic, goals to promote the value of recycling, reusing, repurposing, upcycling.

There’s something SO cool about these chandeliers, how they appear at once modern and old at the same time. Alzaga describes them as inspired by Victorian-era aesthetics, but I look at them and they seem to go WAY further back than that, like they could be very much at home in a castle, in the company of chainmail and armor.

One thing’s for sure, as you watch the artist at work, whether salvaging bicycle parts from the dump, stripping the parts down and organizing them in her shop, or constructing, welding, painting and assembling the finished pieces, it’s clear that Alzaga is a powerful woman who might very well get her message across.

Here are some more images of her work, followed by a video about the artist.

Eyecatchers: Steve McCurry’s World of Bicycles

It was a lot of fun when a post of mine from last month — Eyecatchers: The Many Flavors of Bicycle — was selected by for its Freshly Pressed showcase, resulting in over 4,500 views, 295 Likes, and 132 comments.

That my blog has the word bicycle in its title, and I happen to have a deep fondness for bicycles, made it all seem somehow cosmically…I don’t know…right.

So, I couldn’t help thinking of that when I came across another great collection of bicycle photos today, this time the work of one photographer, Steve Mccurry.

McCurry — an acclaimed photojournalist best known for his famous Afghan Girl photo, “named as the most recognized photograph in the history of National Geographic Magazine,” as well as his images of the September 11, 2001 attack of the World Trade Center in New York City — has posted on his blog a selection of shots from all over the world that happen to feature bicycles.

As with the Many Flavors of Bicycle post, I’m really moved by the universality of the bicycle. One of the things I love the most about being a daily bicycle commuter is that I’m part of an international community of folks who use a bicycle as their primary means of transportation, either by necessity, or as a choice for a healthier planet.

Ok, so, here are just a few of my favorites, click on each image to enlarge, but PLEASE be sure to visit McCurry’s post at his blog, where you’ll find he’s interspersed some lovely, fitting quotes, adding up to a very enjoyable and meaningful photo essay.