Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Citibike: Is that a helmet in your Traffic Cone Bag?

Is that a helmet in your Traffic Cone Bag? 
With the Citibike bikeshare program taking New York by storm, I've discovered a new use for the Traffic Cone Bag: carrying your helmet AND stayin' alive!

Despite being a DFNC (double folder no car) gal I have joined the Citibike program, as I described in detail on my Galfromdownunder Upover blog. What's not to love about a ride-it-and-ditch-it personal cab for just $95155/year?'

But what to do about helmets? Some places are renting them out - does a lice protector come with that? The problem is, helmet rental stations are not situated at the bike stations, but somewhere else, compromising that "convenience" factor.

Carrying a helmet isn't convenient either, which is why many Citibikers have been riding without them. I confess I've ridden bareheaded a number of times while scurrying across town. Downunder, the mandatory helmet law is killing the Melbourne Bikeshare scheme.

So if you decide to wear a helmet, the Traffic Cone Bag will not only make you screamingly visible to traffic as is its mission, it will be a handy tote for your helmet off the bike as well:

Both small and large Traffic Cone Bags hold a helmet nicely, ranging from a regular road style to the rotund, skate style Nutcase Watermelon. 
The small Traffic Cone Bag in stealth mode, holding a rather large helmet without any undue squeezing ... 

At the risk of upselling you, here's why owning 2 TCB's - one inside the other gives you lots of clever, on-demand capacity!

Latest Traffic Cone Bag customers ...

Spotted in the saddle: Gerrit Guers, architect

The Traffic Cone Bag was originally designed for travelin' gals, but at least 50% of aficionados are guys - architects in particular like it for it's stealthy, minimalist, any-color-you-like-as-long-as-it's-black design. Like Gerrit:
Is that a TCB I spot in the sublime Grandaisy Bakery on 72nd and Amsterdam? (You MUST try their butternut squash pizza slice, heated of course)
Indeed, it's architect Gerrit Guers out for a spin on NYC's Summer Streets
Gerrit has one of my experimental black Scotchlite stripe bags. Here's what it looks like sailing down a car-free Park Ave
Good to see those kids are visible, TCB-style!
Stopping at the lights of course ... rule #1 for staying alive: act like a vehicle, obey the road rules 
Climbing the Grand Central Station ramp where no bikes dare to tread on any other day except Summer Streets Saturday ...
"It's my everyday bag," says Gerrit. "Except when I'm on the bike, it's usually in black mode." Spoken like a true architect!

Spotted out of the saddle: Linda Hutchison-BurnFounder of Children's Education Foundation, Vietnam

The TCB in stealth mode outside Souen Macrobiotic restaurant. Not a bicycle in sight - but Citibike is around the corner ...
I recently caught up with Linda Burn, director of the charity Children's Education Foundation Vietnam who lives and works year round in Hoi An, Vietnam.  "I use my TCB every day!" she says, zipping around on a motor scooter. Read about Linda's tireless efforts for her amazing charity here.

Order a Traffic Cone Bag

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Small Traffic Cone Bag: Little bag, big capacity

The Small Traffic Cone Bag can neatly stow three 1-liter cartons of my favorite poison: Zico Coconut water from Trader Joe's

In a previous post, Double Bagging: Why two Traffic Cone Bags are better than one I talked about how handy it is to carry two TCB's, one inside the other, for those unplanned side trips to the grocery store.

The other day I ran out to teach my yoga class with just my small Traffic Cone Bag, in its svelte little-black-dress mode from my soiree the night before. After class, I remembered I was out of my favorite hydration medium, coconut water.

Of course, like many Trader Joe's shoppers I go in there for 1 thing and come out with ten, including three rounds of samples in my belly. And I have to walk five long blocks home, so to protect one's rotator cuff one should distribute groceries as evenly as possible, and avoid carrying one ginormous heavy bag on one shoulder, which can lead to back twinges like I experienced in 2009.

The small Traffic Cone Bag has surprising capacity for its slim size. To carry my favorite drink back home I took stuff out and repacked it like so:

Stack the three liters neatly along the side that you will put against your back. 
Viola! I'm carrying the capacity of a camel but who'd know?
Stack the three liters neatly along the side that you will put against your back. It can be either the side with the orange pockets (if empty) or the opposite side. Then repack the rest of the stuff in the remaining area. I always carry my favorite ultra-packable Aspesi packable nylon blazer in the event of an Arctic cold snap, so that gets slid down there to provide a little padding. Close up the bag and start walking! The other groceries were nice and light in the tiny MUJI fold-up nylon tote I always carry as well. See the carrying capacity of the TCB in action on my recent 8-country tour.

Buy the Traffic Cone Bag: small, large, or both - you get a break for buying two ...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Double Bagging: Why 2 Traffic Cone Bags are better than one (and priced accordingly)

Trebling up the Traffic Cone Bag - one small, one large, one found! 
A common-enough question about the reversibility of the Traffic Cone Bag comes from Becka Roolf in Salt Lake City via the TCB Facebook page:

Hey Lynette, I love my TCB, but I never reverse it because I'd have to take everything out of it... I wonder if you could make a version that just has a flap of fabric on the outside (that rolls up, tucks away, velcros on to stay secure while bicycling?).

Yes, Becka, this was indeed one of the prototype designs, which would be far easier and cheaper to do: sew a bright orange flap inside the big black pocket and somehow have it flop out and clip flat to provide a panel of visibility.

The problem is that it tends to look ugly - like those safety triangles. Ugh. I'm all for safety, but not at the expense of style - at least for this product. One could simply pin a neon triangle inside the black pocket a safety pin and flop it out when the rubber hits the road (with another couple of safety pins).
My Double TCB: A Large TCB with the Small one inside. Who'd know? And I think there's even a chunky DELL laptop in there from my last gig.
I like the bag to be all orange and visibly so from all sides. So what I do is double bag - I carry TWO Traffic Cone Bags most of the time, one inside the other. I have all my bits in the Small TCB (in black mode), and slip it inside the Large TCB (in orange mode) for riding the bike, or black mode for extra capacity when "boulevardeering."  Either way, having everything contained in the inner bag makes it easy pull it out and reverse the outer bag from orange to black to orange to black ... or when you want to be minimal, just leave the outer bag at home.  

Now, I'm not just saying this to sell you two bags. 

The double TCB is very handy. 

1. It creates an extra layer of storage (doubles the pocket space) while still being light and squishable. Here's a blog post, Minimalism to Go, about my recent 8 country 12 day art scavenger hunt, the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge, in which I doubled my challenge by doing the entire journey with my double TCB. 

8 countries, 12 days, a double TCB. OK and a small nylon tote to carry my lunch of the day.  
What went into the TCB: Read all about it!

2. When you have impromptu purchases you can separate the bags and carry both, as you can see in the picture at the top of this page - where I am taking delivery of 30 brand new Traffic Cone Bags from the studio of Caroline Fu. There's ten in each bag - the uppermost bag is a spare cheapie I found at home. 

3. Of course you can simple get ANY kind of drawstring or zippered inner bag and use it as the "liner" bag. Like a library book bag or something from a camping store.  I'm just saying 2 TCB's come in really handy. 

4. At a pinch you can make one a handlebar bag to get your stuff home as shown in this picture:

Now how am I going to get this stuff home? Ah, use the handy unclippability of the TCB straps to make a handlebar bag! 

To encourage you to double-Traffic-Cone-Bag, I've created some special pricing for double orders: Small+Large, Small+Small or Large+Large. Check out my store to see.

Happy TCBing, and feel free to post something about how you use it every day on the TCB Facebook page

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pick Pockets can't pick this!

Linda Donovon wearing the TCB the secure way - drawn closed and patch pocket against your back!

Today a friend was pick-pocketed in the subway - her stylish, backpack-style purse was zipped opened and her wallet taken, "first time in 25 years living in NYC." 

Putting stuff in zippered compartments on your back is asking to be robbed.

 The Traffic Cone Bag, worn with the black pocket against your back and closed tight, is security by design - light fingers can't get at your stuff without slashing it with a knife.

Friday, April 15, 2016

TCB: How small does it go?

How small does the TCB roll up? Above, you can see the Gal (13") and Guy (15") versions rolled up next to a standard small Kleen Kanteen water bottle.

Not ultra small, but not so big either. Small, ultralight bags that squash into a matchbox do exist for race day and hardcore roadie rides, but the TCB is meant as a hybrid.

From League of American Bicyclists Education Director Preston Tyree:

The TCB is for hard core city riding. Highly visible getting to the City Council meeting with my camera,  iPad and keyboard inside and then turns inside out for the presentation to the Council Members so I don’t look any dorkier than usual. I have a blinky on the hook that looks like a reflector but turns on to light up. Wide straps are good when I load it down with camera and iPad.

 Preston, we love you stylish and dorky, but we think someone beat you to it!

Here's Ciclismo Classico grand dame Lauren Hefferon wearing it on a commute in Boston:

 You know you want one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

TCB: Making the straps a leeeeetle bit longer

A simple carabiner from any dollar store add length the straps. Buy a quality one from a camping store for extra strength. 

In the spirit of K.I.S.S. I've tried to keep the straps of the TCB's One Size Fits Most.  And indeed they do. When the bag is laid flat and the top is opened completely, the strap lengths are cut as follows:

Small TCB:  54" (or about 13" exposed length)
Large TCB:  56" (or about 14" exposed length)

It's better that they're a bit shorter than longer, because it's a real pain to make them shorter later (the join and strap anchoring stitches have to be in just the right place, ends cauterized with a flame and stitched etc etc - all by hand).

But if you want to make them longer, it's simple. Buy an inexpensive, stylish black carabiner like the ones sold at the store I worked at*. Or you can get a real el cheapo kind from $2 stores.

You simply insert the carabiner between the D-ring and snap hook at the bottom corner of each bag. Viola!

* Read about my once-was part time gig at Eastern Mountain Sports

Have you seen the neat video of a TCB Customer Preston Tyree and his "Traffic Cone iBag"? Take a look - and join the TCB Facebook Fan Page just for the hill of it.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Traffic Cone Bag: Bigger, Guyfromdownunder Version

Large or small? Depends on what you want to carry!
NOTE! Since 2011, both TCB's now come with a vertical reflective strip. See photo below. 
In 2009, I introduced a larger Traffic Cone Bag size.

The specs for the new, larger "Guyfromdownunder" (for want of a better term) version, pictured above left, are:
  • 15" wide x 18" deep
  • 3/4" webbing straps
  • Orange pockets are deeper and wider to take larger water bottles (and rolled up issues of Carbon Fiber Enthusiast?)
  • Black pocket is 13" wide x 14" deep - holds an unfolded copy of the New York Times (or Sydney Morning Herald, or Chicago Tribune - you get the idea)
The specs for the original, smaller "Galfromdownunder"  pictured right, are:
  • 13" wide by 17" deep
  • Slender,  1/2" lighter webbing straps
  • Orange pockets take regular water bottles
  • Black pocket is 11" wide x 13" deep - holds holds a manila folder or several standard trashy magazines
Both feature:

  • A new ANSI orange polyester neon orange lining, which is more water resistant than the previous version
  • 2.2oz black Supplex fabric - slightly less bulk than the 4oz original, but still very sturdy, with a subtle sheen that can partner your little black dress, or if you're a guy, your whatever
  • A length that does not block bicycling jersey pockets.

Here's how they compare? Well, the small one held quite a few gifties last Christmas ...

The small one even holds three 1-liter bottles of coconut water and then some - read about that here:

The large one holds my chunky Dell work computer and its chunky power adaptor:

What's better than a traffic cone bag? Two traffic cone bags! I've been carrying the small one inside the big one, in whatever orange/black combo is most logical. So, when I want to spend time on or off the bike,  I just whip out the inner bag rather than empty the contents, reverse and re-pack. At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to coerce you to buy 2 bags, read why double bagging the TCB is so useful and how I traveled 11 countries in 12 days with just two traffic cone bags

Having one inside the other creates two extra sleeves to stuff things in. Handy for buying extra stuff on the way home - you can wear "one over the other". You can also, at a pinch, sling it over your handlebars like this, thanks to the quick-release snap hooks on the straps.

Steve Chang commented that the straps cinch nice and evenly. This is because each strap is secured in place by a few stitches at the top where they loop around.  If you have an earlier edition of my TCB that keeps exposing the raggedy join in the straps, simply stretch open the neck of the bag wide, make sure the straps are even, and stitch the strap to the channel at those four points.  The new straps are also now cauterized with a flame to stop any fraying. You can do this to your early TCB too.

The stylish Steve Chang in Florence with his large Traffic Cone Bag
If you turn the bag inside out into musette mode you will of course see the "male" part of the snap on the outside lip of the pocket. I'm guessing that few guys do that, but I'm begging off putting it on the Gal version for now. Your thoughts? Post comments at TCB Reviews.

Update: I now use a more conventional snap.  I'm offering people a choice of silver, orange or black, an offer that might well come back to haunt me, but let's see if anyone takes me up on it.

Read about and order the TCB here