To REI on separate bikes

We’re in a fun place where the kids are strong enough and predictable enough to ride their own bikes a lot more than ever before. Also, they’re a lot heavier than they were last summer and it’s a treat to offload them! I still take the Big Dummy when we go out on separate bikes because I like to be able to carry one of both of them (and their bikes) should they get tired, injured, grumpy, hungry, etc etc etc.

We needed camp stove fuel from REI so this seemed a good opportunity to ride somewhere new with three bikes…though it was probably really based on my not wanting to carry them up the a big hill on the Big Dummy and not being ready to lock the tandem up for an REI-visit amount of time.

I should have plotted our route carefully ahead of time because my kid-riding-separately routes are generally pretty different from my normal routes (which also differ if I’m carrying kids or not and if I’m on an empty cargo bike or regular bike), but I mentioned the I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park when I presented them with the plan and they agreed that riding their own bikes was a terrific idea so I couldn’t turn back! We took the route I would take to REI were they not riding solo (which is the route I would take with them riding solo to the Colonnade, but not the route I would take with them all the way to REI): over the University Bridge and along Eastlake a few blocks before climbing one block to a quieter street and crossing under the freeway via the I-5 Colonnade and then crossing back over the freeway on Lakeview. I still have trouble wrapping my head around the idea of climbing higher than need be just to go back downhill, but the route is quieter and the hill is less steep. Here’s my Strava recording of our route.

Getting to the Colonnade worked well. We took the sidewalk for bits–uphill on 40th until we met Roosevelt to cross the University Bridge and then again once Eastlake grew a parking lane.

We took a breather at the Colonnade…or rather, I took a breather while the kids ran around the mountain bike park.

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At this point I realized I had no idea if Lakeview had a sidewalk and if it did, was there one on both sides of the street? I saw a bit of sidewalk, but thought it didn’t go all the way through on the west side so I had us ride on the east side (towards traffic, not generally the side one should bike on on the sidewalk) because I didn’t want them to ride uphill on the fast arterial with just a sharrow. But we were soon blocked by blackberry brambles (note: obviously this is a problem unique to this time of year).

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And the sidewalk does indeed go all the way through on both sides of the street so we waited a long while for an opening to cross (nope, few people driving on fast streets wait for even little kid street crossers) and crossed back over where there were still lots of blackberry bushes, but the overgrowth wasn’t quite as bad.

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Yum!

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We stuck to the sidewalk for the Lakeview freeway flyover. Terrific view from up there!

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And after a couple more blocks of Eastlake sidewalk we were safely at REI. The bike parking is perfectly fine, by the way, I’m just always nervous locking up the newest bike in the fleet. I really do want to take the tandem + trailer bike out more for normal things because we usually just ride it for bike camping and it’s SO HEAVY and I’d love to enjoy it in a svelter situation.

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I don’t have a favorite route from REI to South Lake Union and take slightly different routes each time. This time, our route was dictated by riding past an exciting-looking construction site (big hole!) and then needing to detour around a different construction site road closure.

Solo-riding kids are also useful for popping up on the sidewalk to push beg buttons! Even quicker than having passenger kids hop off the Big Dummy deck to run over and push the button and run back.

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Now even though I didn’t end up having to carry either kid at any point during our voyage to REI, the Big Dummy came in handy while we were hanging out at the Lake Union Park beach: I was able to quickly ferry a wet barefoot kid to the potty at MOHAI. I’m not sure how soon I’ll switch to riding a regular bike rather than the cargo bike. Probably when I can’t keep up with them on my heavy bike. I can keep up with my nine-year old, but not my six-year old.

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Then we took our familiar route home. The Westlake Cycletrack is a bit more completed than last time!

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And, of course, there was one last blackberry stop because no prior agreement about having already stopped three times for blackberries and a promise to go picking first thing in the morning will make a stop on the homestretch unnecessary apparently.

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Monthly multimodal orthodontist trip

Nothing too special this Monday, just our usual monthly check-in at the orthodontist (20 miles away in Issaquah) to which we generally take bikes and bus. But just to make it extra difficult this time, we brought Pixie the dog along, so I may as well record it here for posterity. For busing we use the Old Mamabike, a Bianchi Milano city bike with Bobike Junior kid seat (blog post with lots of photos here, and most of our multimodal trips to the dentist/orthodontist can be found here). The Old Mamabike doesn’t have a front basket for Pixie to ride in (and if I ever did put something on the front, it would be very small so it could still fit on the bus rack) so Pixie rode in the Timbuk2 Muttmover backpack. Dogs are allowed on Seattle buses, by the way. Dogs are not allowed inside the orthodontist so we took turns hanging outside with her.

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Our 10am bus had the new Sportworks Apex 3 transit bike rack! So much easier to use than the yellow claws.

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And the bus was super crowded so we were stuck standing at the front and had a nice view of it in action:

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Having the bikes along isn’t critical on the Seattle side of things–we ride half a mile to the first bus and then a block between buses…but it is pretty fun to bike downtown with kids!

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Once in Issaquah we ride a mile and a half to get to the orthodontist and then around to a variety of places in town. Today we used our bikes to visit Bicycle Center of Issaquah. Sadly, Dillon the dog wasn’t at work today so Pixie didn’t get to meet him, but they aired up my incredibly low tires (oops) and the kids fought over–I mean played with–the stationary kid bikes.

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And we all pretended to mount the penny farthing. I haven’t worked on Pixie sticking her head (and just her head, not also half her torso) out the side window of the Muttmover yet so you’ll have to take my word that she’s chilling in the backpack.

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Then we pushed along to the Issaquah Brewhouse because they have a DOG MENU!!! Pixie ordered bacon and treats made from used hops. Other items on the doggie menu were peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cheeseburger. I assume those are the same as the human versions, but I didn’t ask. Her meal came on a frisbee, just like the kid meals.

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This trip was also different from those previous because I had my six-year old ride the separate bike and carried my nine-year old. I probably won’t do that again. The little guy did fine on the way there, and was happy to ride the five miles home from Belltown, but things got a little messy at the end.

We always take two buses on the way there and are 50/50 on taking two buses on the way home. It seems more worth it to have had the bikes along if we use them (duh), but it takes longer to ride the whole way home from the end of the 554 line. But it costs more and I have to lift the bikes on and off the bike rack an extra time. Hooray for having options, I guess!

We started on the sidewalks (legal in Seattle), but moved to the street once I deemed it safe enough. Part of that was in a door zone bike lane and I grimaced as my little wild child bunny hopped and skidded repeatedly behind me (thump…screech…thump…screech). I’m happy he has so much fun on his bike, but I instituted a new rule: NO BUNNY HOPPING OR SKIDDING IN DOOR ZONE BIKE LANES. I later added NO BUNNY HOPPING UPHILL as he swerved slightly while hopping his way ahead of me. The guy on the bike he swerved near laughed loudly at my hollering so I’m not sure that lesson stuck.

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Once on the Burke-Gilman Trail, my small racer zoomed ahead to hang with the faster commuters, generously waiting for me to catch up at intersections. And there was the obligatory blackberry-picking stop because now that it’s blackberry season, all trips take an extra half hour.

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All was good until that last hill when he decided he’d rather walk his bike than downshift (whereas my nine-year old still doesn’t seem to have the knack of shifting gears, my six-year old figured it out in five minutes, but thinks it’s better to mash uphill in gear seven rather than slowly–“Too slow!” glide up in first) and then he fell over and refused to move. I unloaded his big brother and was able to lure both kids into walking uphill by oohing and aahing at the sight of our school playground’s preliminary construction as I took turns getting both bikes up the hill.

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We have a bonus orthodontist visit in two weeks, but scheduled in the afternoon after bike camp, so it will be a different, even tired-er trip. Sure to be another adventure!

The Pleasant Revolution Biketopia Music Festival special show at Gas Works Park!

We had the most magical day yesterday, watching and participating in the Pleasant Revolution Biketopia Music Festival! I’ve heard of the Pleasant Revolution before, but never seen them and was sad to think I’d miss them during this visit due to late shows and early bedtimes Friday and Saturday nights and a too-far-from-home show on Sunday. But as luck would have it they played a surprise show as part of Bingo or Bust Alleycat put on by Bicycle Benefits to kick off Seattle’s first Bike Bingo six-week event (I have $2 cards benefiting Familybike Seattle if you still need one!).

We were lucky to know about the surprise show ahead of time so even though we didn’t make it down to Gas Works Park early enough to cheer on the alleycat racers, we headed down a bit later for a doggie playdate and hang out until the show started.

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The show and the bikes were amazing! I knew ahead of time that it’s all pedal powered, but I didn’t realize it was pedal powered by longtail cargo bikes! We saw Matt and Omar in the park scoping out performance sites on an Xtracycle FreeRadical conversion and Kona Ute. Most of the bikes are Xtracycle FreeRadical conversions, but there was also one Surly Big Dummy (yay!), a Yuba Boda Boda midtail, a Yuba Spicy Curry (the only e-assisted bike, I think), and at least one regular bike. The show was atop Kite Hill which was the best possible place it could have been!

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There were several bands so the show lasted a couple hours and I pedaled for a few songs while the kids bombed down the side of the hill over and over and over again. Really, a perfect venue! Here’s a video of Ian announcing the winner of the alleycat (yay Zach!) prefaced by 15 seconds of kid hill bomb:

The kids were able to help a bit, too! The Big Dummy is the older swoop-frame model so it has a fairly low standover height. My six-year old (almost seven) had to stand in the pedals and my nine-year old could sit and pedal:

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The littler kid tried one of the Xtracycles later, but the top tube proved too uncomfortable.

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I wish I’d memorized what one of the performers said word-for-word because it was terrific. Similar to what I see on the Band page of Bicicletas Por la Paz: “We bike tour to promote peace, bicycles and empowerment! We are working to change the collective consciousness, gearing it towards an alternative form of transportation, using our bodies as the medium.” but there was also something about challenging the idea of inconvenience of bicycling for a touring band.

Go see them play if you can! Upcoming shows as listed on the Pleasant Revolution site:
Sunday, July 17 (today!) at noon in Seward Park
Tuesday, July 19 in Olympia, WA
Saturday, July 23 in Portland, OR
Sunday, July 24 in Portland, OR
Saturay, July 30 in Eugene, OR

I only biked 3.2 miles on my bike yesterday–and that with no kids on board–but my legs are tired today from working the band bikes! One last bit of magic from the Pleasant Revolution site:

Some principles of the Pleasant Revolution:

  • slow is beautiful
  • local is profound
  • sustainable living is richer
  • we can free ourselves from the culture of fear that drives our consumerism and apathy
  • fundamental change is necessary and possible
  • to change the world, we must change our own consciousness and lifestyle
  • humanity now, perhaps more than in any previous time, has an opportunity to create a new, saner, more loving world
  • the bicycles liberate

Vive la revolution!

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Sunrise Coffee for FREE BIKE Festival

It’s July and that means it’s Seattle’s first FREE BIKE Festival. It’s a crowdsourced festival of bike fun, running July 1st through 10th and I’ve put four events on the calendar, including a Sunrise Coffee Club this morning.

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I got up at 3:30 a.m. to leave the house at 4:00 a.m. and get to Madrona Park before 5:00 a.m. since sunrise would happen at 5:16 a.m. I didn’t expect anyone else to show up, but there were eight of us! Thank you to Ian, Anne, Claire, Ryan, Tom, Chris, and Taylor for getting up so early!

Unfortunately, there was no dramatic entrance by the sun due to low cloud cover, but it was still a great morning: birds serenaded me the whole ride down, eagles flew back and forth while we sipped our coffee, and Mount Rainier looked pretty as a postcard.

See all my photos here.

Next up for the festival is the FREE BIKE Kickoff Ride at 6pm, starts at MOHAI, ends at Peddler Brewing Co. I think I’ll try to rally the kids to join. If we can time it right, we’ll play at the Lake Union spray park and South Lake Union beach all afternoon until the start of the ride and join for the first half, but peel off to the east when the pack heads west.

Happy FREE BIKE, all!

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Seattle Kidical Mass Bike Camping Sat-Sun July 30-31, 2016

Let’s go camping! Time for our annual summer bike camping trip to Fay Bainbridge Park: Saturday, July 30th to Sunday, July 31st, 2016.
Facebookers please RSVP on the Facebook event page.

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9:00 a.m. Saturday, July 30, 2016 – meet by Fremont PCC Natural Market (on the south side of 34th Street)
This will give us time to watch one another’s luggage-laden bikes to pop inside for last-minute supplies and potty breaks and be ready to ride at
9:30 a.m. we ride! Promptly at 9:30 a.m.! (Which means 9:40, but for real we are leaving by 9:40!)
– or –
11:00 a.m. meet us at the ferry (inside, in line).
11:25 a.m. ferry sets sail (ARRIVE AT LEAST 20 MINUTES EARLY).

Routes:

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Ferry information:
From the Bicycles on Washington State Ferries webpage:
“Bicyclists should arrive 20 minutes prior to departure time to be loaded at the beginning of loading process. If a bicyclist arrives after vehicle loading has begun, they will be loaded at the end of the load.”

So arrive by 11:05am. BUT if you’re late, they’ll still put you on–just after the cars load. I love how versatile they are with bikes! But it’s so super fun to roll onto the empty ferry so be early if you’re meeting us there. Plus we can socialize in the bike lane before loading.

If you have an ORCA card and regular bike, there is an automated tollbooth at the far right–no waiting behind the cars! But otherwise you need to wait in the rightmost car lane to pay. Current fares are $8.10 for adults, $4.05 for kids six and up, and $1 for bikes.
Trailers, cargo bikes, tandems, and trailer bikes are sometimes charged an extra $1 bike fee so families with bikes of that ilk should hit a ticket booth. If the ticket agent seems confused, it’s helpful to say, “Last time families with bikes like this paid [fill in the blank].”
For example: for our tandem plus trailer bike carrying one adult and two kids age six and up, they’ve been charging me for one adult plus bike, one kid plus bike, one extra $1 bike charge. We can compare notes at PCC before heading down.
The Bainbridge-to-Seattle direction is free.

Once on Bainbridge Island, we’ll ride about a block uphill within the ferry terminal area to Bike Barn Rentals and hang out while the car traffic clears. Generally, we push directly onward to the campground, but there’s a grocery store in Winslow for any forgotten items. During our June group trip, we used this stop to divide into three groups:
– Group hitting grocery store and then taking scenic route
– Group taking scenic route
– Group taking direct, highway route (this is the group I, Madi, will lead)

Our campground is in Fay Bainbridge Park which features a great playground (!!) and BEACH. There are outlets in the bathrooms and picnic shelter (which might be reserved) for those who need to charge e-bike batteries or other things.

Hiker/biker camp spots are $7 per person, though sometimes the camp host is OK with us paying $7 per tent (essentially making kids free!), so we always check in with the camp host first. Also, we’re often given permission to camp in the kayak-in area, which we’ll try to do again this year as we like that side best! Payment happens at a kiosk between the restrooms and the camp host. Keep your receipt handy so we can give them to the camp host and help them keep track of our big group.

Here’s a recap of our recent June family bike camping trip or go straight to the Flickr gallery of 194 photos.

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Note: We’ve been doing group summer camping trips to Fay for several years now and we’ve gradually been seeing more kids riding their own bikes–we had four in June! Bainbridge Island is very bikey with drivers used to seeing bikes on the roads, but it’s definitely busier (even the quiet, scenic route) and hillier (even the flat highway route) than my own Seattle kids are used to…however, they’re going to ride their own bikes for the first time this trip! I’ll take my cargo bike just in case I need to carry one or both of them and their bikes for part of the way.

At this point no concrete plans for when to head back Sunday. We’ll most likely have an early crowd and a later crowd. I’ll probably be part of the later crowd. We can try to have energy to head to Peddler Brewing Company or Fremont Brewing for a Seattle-side hangout before going our separate ways. Our route from Fay to the ferry is a backtracking of our Saturday route over and here’s the route from the Seattle Ferry Terminal to Peddler Brewing Company and the route from the Seattle Ferry Terminal to Fremont Brewing.

New to bike camping or bike camping as a family? Feel free to ask questions in the comments or contact me. The Seattle Family Biking Facebook group is also an excellent resource–many families have borrowed gear via that group! Do you want to come, but don’t have the right bike? Check out the Familybike Seattle Rental Fleet.

FREE BIKE Festival coming July 1-10!

freebikeI’ve never been down to Portland for Pedalpalooza, but I’ve heard about it for years and hope to make it down next year. But in the meantime, Seattle now has its own similar festival: FREE BIKE. Details from the All about FREE BIKE page:

For ten days July 1–10, FREE BIKE will be whatever people like you make of it. Inspired by Pedalpalooza in Portland and Velopalooza in Vancouver, FREE BIKE invites anyone to host their own group rides, parties, discussions or anything else you can imagine. We will gather the details into one convenient, bike-fun-packed calendar.

Express yourself, meet new people and explore your city like you’ve never experienced before. That’s what FREE BIKE is all about.

There are only a few rules to being a host: You take full responsibility for your own event, and it must be free to participate.

Want to share your knowledge of neighborhood history? Lead a tour by bike! Is there a social issue near to your heart? Lead a bike ride to rally around the cause! Ever dreamed of cruising down Broadway with your bike posse blasting Sir Mix-A-Lot? I will join if you make it happen!

The organizers (Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog, Brock Howell of Bike Happy Cascadia, and Jason Goods of Swift Industries) have some great events on the calendar already, but it’s really up to us normal folks to make this event shine with lots and lots of rides!

I’ve put four things on the calendar:

  1. Sunrise Coffee Club
    July 1 @ 5:00 a.m.
    Facebook event page
    Let’s channel our cool cousins to the south and be like Portland Pedalpalooza with a #SunriseCoffeeClub on the first day of FREE BIKE!

    Be at the Madrona Park picnic shelter (853 Lake Washington Blvd, Seattle, WA 98122) at 5:00 a.m. so we can enjoy the sunrise together at 5:16 a.m.

    Bring your outdoor coffee making stuff (camp stove, coffee, water).

  2. Kidical Mass to FREE BIKE Party
    July 3 @ 10:00 am
    Facebook event page
    Kidical Mass is a fun bike ride for kids, kids at heart, and their families with over 50 chapters around the world! Join us for a bike parade to the FREE BIKE Party and Pedaler’s Fair.

    We’ll meet at Salmon Bay Park at 10:00 a.m. for some playground action and bike decorating before setting out at 10:30-ish.

    Our 2.5-mile route will travel mostly on Neighborhood Greenways and proposed Neighborhood Greenways. It’s mostly slightly downhill and we will move slowly so it’s a perfect ride for even the littlest biking kids. Kids on bikes, kids on balance bikes, trailers, trail-a-bikes, cargo bikes, bike seats, family tandems–all welcome!

    We’ll make a pit stop at Adams Elementary for some fun bike games before enjoying a nice, long stretch of the 58th Street Greenway past Ballard Commons Park and the bike counter before hitting the party.

    Once at FREE BIKE Party, join in the Family Bike Expo! Ride bikes, leave your bike for other parents to try, and join Morgan Scherer in staffing the event. Volunteering for a Family Bike Expo is easy, and includes talking to people about the bikes/family biking, referring folks to talk to Morgan if you don’t feel confident answering, and helping get waivers signed. Contact Scherer at morgan@familybike.org or 206-841-6538

    Read more about FREE BIKE Party here. Food trucks, Pedaler’s Fair, Bike Poster Art Show, music, kid-friendly breweries!

  3. Let’s Skip Town with Kids and Dogs
    July 5 @ 10:30 am
    Facebook event page
    Everyone knows July 5th is the first sunny day of summer in Seattle so let’s commemorate the day with a huge ride (huge for kids and dogs, that is) with an 11-mile pedal (route here) along the Burke-Gilman Trail to the kid- and dog-friendly Lake Trail Tap Room and Beer Garden of 192 Brewing in Kenmore. We will be moving very slowly–possibly 3mph, though it will depend on what sorts of bikes we have along–and likely stop several times along the way for rest breaks, snacks, and checking out the fairy door. A stop at Log Boom Park for a bit of playground time and potty breaks will probably be a good idea before settling in at the brewery.

    I don’t think there’s a kid menu, but the pretzels from the taproom menu are tasty!

    Our meeting spot is Rainier Vista at UW, the big grassy area between Stevens Way and the Burke-Gilman Trail, south of Drumheller Fountain, north of the new light rail station.

  4. #coffeeoutsideforher
    July 7 @ 10:00 am
    Facebook event page
    #coffeeoutsideforher is a weekly gathering of biking coffee (or tea) drinkers, started last winter. It’s not just for women–everyone is welcome!

    It’s also not necessary to bring anything–I always have plenty of coffee and mugs, though the usual gist of #coffeeoutside is that everyone brings their campstove and coffee kit to make their own coffee (and yield a cool photo of all the various coffee systems).

    Find us on the plaza at the southeast side of Gas Works Park. If you’re early, bike up Kite Hill to check out the view first! It’s easier to climb up the back/south side of the hill.

    There is no late. If the weather is nice, we often stay until noon and we’re always there at least an hour.

Also, LOOK LOOK LOOK we’ve got a ringer! Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League from Portland and practiced Pedalpalooza event host is in town and hosting a Sunset Mystery Ride on Thursday, July 5 @ 7:00 pm, starting at Fremont PCC.

Come to my events if you can, and add some of your own!

Kidical Mass for G&O photo shoot

Casting call!
Sunday 6/19 10am at G&O
Facebook event

This is a regular Kidical Mass family bike ride, EXCEPT there will be some photo- and video-taking for our friends at G&O Family Cyclery to use on their website and in an upcoming commercial. No need to have any particular type of bike from any particular shop.

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You can help!
Do you have video-shooting skills and equipment and want to help? Call the shop at (206) 363-4663 or email Davey: oil[at]familycyclery[dot]com

The scene…
Meet at G&O Family Cyclery (8554 1/2 Greenwood Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98103) at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 19th (a.k.a. Father’s Day).

We’ll ride 2.5 miles along quiet streets, Greenways, and the Interurban Trail to Bitter Lake Playfield for some playground time. The wading pool isn’t open yet, but perhaps I’ll bring my bike teeter totter (note: only works for kid bikes) since empty wading pools are pretty good teeter totter spots!

About Kidical Mass
Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our monthly group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.

Some Kidical Mass ride leaders are Cascade Bicycle Club volunteer ride leaders. Cascade Bicycle Club is the nation’s largest statewide bicycle organization and serves bike riders of all ages and abilities throughout the Puget Sound region and across Washington state. Cascade’s mission is to “improve lives through bicycling” through many programs including free group rides. For Kidical Mass rides led by Cascade ride leaders, all participants are required to sign a wavier and wear a helmet.

Note: this particular Kidical Mass won’t be a Cascade Bicycle Club event due to the promotional nature of it. Therefore no waviers and related requirements.