Following on from last week’s entry, here’s a second set of gift recommendations for the sustainably-minded people in your life, with the focus being on two-wheeled transportation. These gifts will help the giftee stay safe, enjoy their bicycle ride more, or kick the petroleum habit.
Basil D’Azur shopper bag
Although this bag looks pretty dull in the photograph, it kicks all sort of ass in person. It hooks onto any bike rack with sturdy plastic clips and a velcro strap. When you take it off of the bike, these clips neatly hide away under a zippered section. (It actually took me a while to find them the first time I used the bag.) Although it’s not clear in the photo, there’s a shoulder strap tucked inside, making it easy to carry. It’s great for grocery shopping, especially if you want to go all cartoon European and buy a baguette. It even has a section for a wine bottle! I received this last Christmas and a number of strangers have complemented me on it, not having any idea that it was a bike bag until I told them. Even if you normally don’t have a sophisticated air about you – I know I don’t – this bag will give strangers the impression that you do.
Bike Light Set
A lot of cyclists think “I don’t ride at night. Why do I need lights?” But in my opinion, all cyclists should have a set of lights, bar none. Because you never know when it’s going to start raining, making you as far less visible to motorists. Or if you are going to get a bit lost and have it getting dark by the time you head home. Or you get a flat tire, pushing your schedule back by those few crucial minutes. Make your loved one’s commute or recreational ride a little safer by buying them a solid set of bike lights. I have this set, which suits my needs well enough for now. However, as I started riding home a significant amount at night last summer, I’d certainly consider upgrading to this light set, which appears to be much brighter. In addition to REI (where the links go), this is one product that you should definitely be able to get at your local bike shop. They’ll also be able to recommend specific sets to meet your giftee’s particular needs.
An Xtracycle is the perfect Big Gift for the cyclist looking to go car-free who is worried about their carrying capacity. The company calls their bikes Sport Utility Bikes, and they aren’t kidding. These bikes’ unique longtail style, which places the back tire much further from the front tire than most bikes, allows you to carry almost anything. The photos and testimonials on their site of the stuff people manage to cram onto their bikes are amazing – they include surfboards, kids’ bikes, guitars, and full camping gear. Getting the Funwagon or Family kits that attach to the bike even allow the cyclist to safely carry one or more passengers plus cargo. They’re a lot better than trailers, which are very low to the ground, can tip over when taking sharp turns, and only fit the smallest of passengers. Personally, I’ve seen Xtracycles being used to carry speakers for musical accompaniment (at both the Seersucker Ride and I St. Social) and accommodate hand-built toddler seats (on the Climate Ride). Unfortunately, I’ve never seen anyone doing it, but I’m dying to try a Margarita made with the Xtracycle compatable Fender Blender.
Handlebar Cue Sheet / Map Holder
I’ve done a number of organized rides in the last year, many of which have involved maps or cue sheets (lists of directions). As I have the short-term memory of a goldfish, I forget a direction about 30 seconds after I look at it. As I would otherwise be pulling the map in and out of my back pocket every few seconds (especially when there are multiple turns in one mile), a cue sheet holder is an absolute necessity for me. A lot of cyclists use clips to hold their cue sheets to their handlebars, but I like the fact that the plastic protects the paper and prevents it from blowing around in the wind. I actually have this map holder but it appears to be no longer available online. (I think it is still available in stores.) Needless to say, this is the perfect stocking stuffer for the directionally impaired cyclist in your life.
Membership / Donation to a Cycling Advocacy Organization
The one thing a cyclist can never have too much of is political support. Or bike lanes, which happen to be directly related. Luckily, supporting bicycle advocacy organizations lead to both of these lovely outcomes. Personally, my favorite is the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, because I can directly see their results. Because of WABA’s work, I can safely ride down Pennsylvania Ave., pick up a Capital Bikeshare bike in hundreds of locations across town, and take a class on how to be an even safer cyclist in the city. While it doesn’t directly affect me, I also very much like their outreach to Anacostia, where many people have to ride bicycles for financial reasons, but often lack the equipment or training to do so safely. On top of all of that, my membership also nets me discounts at local bike shops. If your giftee doesn’t live in or near a city with a bicycle advocacy group, you can donate to their state’s group (like Bike Maryland or the New York Bicycling Coalition) or the national group League of American Bicyclists.
If that’s still not enough bicycling gifty goodness for you, Treehugger has 12 Innovative, Practical Gifts for the Bicycle Lover and 10 Commuter Bikes to Give or Get.