Archive | October 2011

Halloween bike box and bike lane

Happy Halloween! After last year’s old-school sharrow costume, my son wanted to be a new-school sharrow this Halloween. I couldn’t think of a good way to create a bicycle-and-chevrons-symbol costume so I talked him into bike lane guy instead. And we turned the green leotard and tights from a handed-down Super Why! costume into a bike box costume for his brother.

Photo courtesy Hub and Bespoke

No one could tell what the boys were dressed as (except for one neighbor who had seen the bike box picture on the Spokespeople Facebook page) and it didn’t help matters that they added wings to their costumes and the bike box also wanted a balloon attached to his helmet. Here are the real street markings in case you aren’t familiar with them:

I don’t know that the costumes are crafty enough to deserve more details, but here goes anyway…

The helmets are covered with half an old t-shirt each, sewn into place.

The bike box’s bike is cut from cardboard and sewn onto the leotard. I’m not much of a sewer–I tried to superglue it first!

I cut the circles for the bike lane’s wheels from thick cardboard and taped a wire hanger to them before gluing white paper over the ugly mess.

I made a little harness with part of the helmet t-shirt: part of the hem from the sleeve worked well to thread the hanger through and the collar fit under his other arm to hold things in place. The wheels flopped around a bit, but didn’t get in the way as much as the wings.

The bike lane held an arm out front and did a “flamingo leg” to look the part. Of course the bike box insisted on doing a flamingo leg each time his brother did, despite my suggesting he put his hands on his hips to look more box-like.

My dad is visiting so we haven’t been doing much biking. This afternoon we all took the bus to Fremont to see The Bubbleman at the statue of Lenin and trick or treat at the local businesses (including Hub and Bespoke and the Theo Chocolate factory). After a couple hours of that, we hoofed it past the Troll to catch the 16 to the Wallingford Center for Green Halloween. That didn’t last too long, but it was nice to get a warm indoor break before trick-or-treating the nine blocks home. That was by far the best part of the trick-or-treating and we met so many more neighbors tonight versus Neighborhood Night Out. The best house was the one that had candy for the kids and choice of vodka/tonic, red wine, white wine, or beer (IPA) for the grown ups.

Parts of the evening would have been easier on the bike–especially the half hour of waiting for the 16. The bike would have been convenient for carrying our stuff, but I had a stroller along which served to carry our increasingly heavy candy overflow bag.

Saturday’s miles: 0 miles
Sunday’s miles: 0 miles
Today’s miles: 9.1 miles
October cumulative: 212.4 miles
Days missed: 7

Final floating farmers market of the year

Yesterday resolved into a stunningly sunny day so we spent the afternoon aboard the Virginia V steamship for the final floating farmers market of the season. In exciting bike-related news, when I mentioned to Matt of Hart Coffee that his operation looked compact enough that he could manage as a bike-based business, he said it’s already on his radar and he’s currently looking for a bike trailer. Of course I tried to talk him into an Xtracycle, but he’s very attached to his road bike.

According to the FarmBoat blog, the construction in South Lake Union has kicked into high gear, cutting off access to the park. We really like SLU Park, but admittedly primarily in warm weather so we’re cool taking a break until May.

This morning was our coldest morning yet. We all wore gloves and extra layers. The boys didn’t complain about the cold at all so I think we’ll be fine through the winter. I have to admit I’m relieved preschool is on the Seattle Public Schools snow closure program so we won’t have to deal with riding on especially bad days.

Wednesday’s miles: 0 miles
Yesterday’s miles: 12.2 miles
Today’s miles: 0 miles
October cumulative: 203.3 miles
Days missed: 5

Learning to pedal

After reading this How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike tutorial, we broke out the new princess pedal bike for the first time. I thought we’d be golden practicing on our block, given Step 1: Point the child up a gentle incline, but we didn’t make a lot of progress today. Back inside, I checked the steepness of our hill for the first time with the hill grade calculator. Perhaps I shouldn’t have considered our 7.1% grade gentle. So even though the solo pedaling was a bust, it was cool that the little balance biker got to zoom ahead of his big brother for a change. I’ll rest my back a bit (Step 2: Hold the back of the saddle is hard work!) and find a gentler slope. The bike looks a bit on the small side so we’ll have to get over to Bike Works soon.

We checked out the fall colors today, too. Perhaps not the most glamorous locale, but the parking lot of Gas Works Park is full of red trees.

We collected a couple buckets of leaves and then admired the latest colors recently added to the play barn.

Yesterday’s miles: 3.3 miles
Today’s miles: 8.8 miles
October cumulative: 191.1 miles
Days missed: 3

First kiddie pedal bike

I’m still planning to buy a quality kid bike at Bike Works with my $12 for $25 Google Offers coupon, but I couldn’t pass up the FREE BIKES message to the local moms group. There were no descriptions of the bikes so I rode over hoping for a blue one and found quite the opposite. I almost brought our bigger balance bike along for size comparision and probably should have–I initially put both pink bikes in my trailer. I felt greedy and put the big one back and got lucky–the little one is the perfect size if not the perfect color.

Since we’re still in balance bike territory and may stay here for qutie a while (“I just want bigger and bigger and bigger balance bikes. No pedals!”) I haven’t done any kid bike research. I noticed that this little bike doesn’t have hand brakes so I figured it had coaster brakes and might therefore be a bit hard to learn on. Turns out it has no brakes. By design. Doesn’t seem like the safest way to start biking. Maybe it’s supposed to have training wheels to control the speed. But we’ll give it a go as-is.

For the record, I’ve got nothing against princess bikes…though I think six leading ladies is more than necessary on one tiny bike. Most of our little friends have lovely pink sparkly bikes, we’ve just really got a blue thing (and a yellow thing with the little one) going over here. And it looks like my beach cruiser had a baby bike.

Today’s miles: 1 mile
October cumulative: 179.0 miles
Days missed: 3

Northbound Dexter

I met bike touring family extraordinaire, Pedal Powered Family, today! They’re spending a few days in Seattle as part of their year-long adventure through North America. I didn’t get to see their bikes, but had a lovely ten-minute chat with them in the Children’s Museum. They’re amazingly nice and Heidi gamely answered all my cloth-diapers-on-the-road questions. I don’t know why, but I find the diapering aspect the most intriguing part of touring with toddlers. I’d love to take a multi-day bike trip with the kids and feel a bit unadventurous for having waited so long that diapers won’t be part of the equation.

I just had the front passenger along today–his big brother stayed home with a cold. That meant we could take a spin around the International Fountain, which felt quite fitting today given the gloomy weather. Bike Snob NYC called it “a fountain in their velodrome” when visiting Seattle in March. This was my first time riding inside the fountain and I declare it an absolute must for “To do in Seattle on bike” lists.

We took the new buffered Dexter bike lane home. It’s just as nice as the southbound lane we took a few days ago. Interestingly, there are no busty bike lane icons on this side of the street. Several of the symbols at the bottom of the hill are augmented in various ways, though.

Today was the first day I wore Mr. Family Ride’s Endura Luminite jacket. It handled the rain wonderfully and even though it’s much to big for me, it didn’t feel uncomfortable. I should have worn a thin long sleeved layer under it because the plasticky fabric made my arms sweaty. I think I’ll have many rainy days to fine tune my rain outfit.

Today’s miles: 9.6 miles
October cumulative: 178.0 miles
Days missed: 3

Octopus bike rack

The Seattle Aquarium’s octopus bike rack is back! It’s probably been accessible since shortly after our last visit, but we don’t make it down here very often. And since this was our first time locking up to the octopus, I hadn’t previously noticed the overhang. I had our seat-covering rain bags along, but it was nice not to have to use them. Thanks, aquarium!

We headed home through the Ballard Locks and stopped to watch a large barge enter the big lock. That was the exciting part of the return trip for the kids, but I was elated to run into Haulin’ Colin by the train yard. The bad news was all six of his black Rolling Jackass center stands are spoken for, but the good news is it will be six weeks or less before more are ready.

Colin was on his way back from Seattle Powder Coat, which was our next destination. It’s not the most kid-friendly place with colored metal pipes hanging at shortie eye level just asking to be clanged together. Fortunately it was just a quick visit to confirm the swatch I liked on my laptop looked the same in person. Otherwise I may have resorted to plopping the children in the big blue recycling cage to have a few minutes of quiet to study colors.

You may have guessed from the mentions of Haulin’ Colin and Seattle Powder Coat that I’ve got a new bike in the works. I don’t want to jinx things by saying anything more about it just yet, but it’s very exciting and as soon as it’s in my garage I’ll let the cat out of the bag.

Wednesday’s miles: 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s miles: 4.4 miles
Today’s miles: 16.7 miles
October cumulative: 168.4 miles
Days missed: 3

Dexter buffered bike lane

If you like bike lane symbols with boobs, check out the southbound Dexter Avenue bike lane. I think one of them is visible in Seattle Bike Blog’s video of the new lane. I’d been on Dexter northbound once–before the new buffered lanes were painted on–but figured southbound was too steep. Turns out, it’s not. It doesn’t have the train track appeal of Westlake, but the kids were excited to be in a new bike lane. It’s not a divided bike lane, but the painted buffer zone is great, as are the traffic islands for the bus stops. I don’t think I’d ride it during commute hours when it’s crowded with faster bikes, but we’ll use it again.

Today’s destination was Pike Place Market, but we ended up all the way down at the waterfront (had to get some train track viewing in) so I cheated and took an elevator back up. This time I took the elevator on the side of the market parking garage. It didn’t go all the way up to the skybridge so I still had a block of slight climb up Western. I think I’ve hit every elevator other than the parking-garage-to-skybridge one, but that would probably be too crowded for comfort.

We took Westlake home, but we’ll check out the northbound buffered bike lane some day soon.

Today’s miles: 15.4 miles
October cumulative: 142.9 miles
Days missed: 3

Pumpkin season

We ran a couple Halloween-related errands by bike today: white pants for a costume (similar, but even better than last year’s sharrow) and mini pumpkins to decorate the porch.

After drawing faces on the pumpkins, the boys took them out for a spin in their balance bike baskets. Naturally, we headed for Halloweeny house around the corner to infuse the new pumpkins with spooky spirit.

Yesterday’s miles: 0 miles
Today’s miles: 10.6 miles
October cumulative: 127.5 miles
Days missed: 3

I-5 Colonnade

A troll tucked under the Aurora Bridge is nice, but a mountain bike park under the freeway is brilliant. We discovered it on our way to Capitol Hill. I don’t think I found the easiest route, but I was able to make it without walking. The first uphill block, on Roanoke alongside Rogers Playground was steep, but short, and there’s a nice one-block path behind the park.

The path under the freeway was nice and wide and the mountain bike trails were impressive. I didn’t try any of the trails, but I wouldn’t mind going back with the mountain bike to check out the easy Tqalu Trail.

Google maps suggested I take a left on Belmont, but it looked pretty steep and I could see the inviting Melrose Trail straight ahead so we went rogue. I arbitrarily chose Thomas Street as my left-turn hill and instantly regretted it. I think I normally wouldn’t have made it up the steep bricky block, but I was determined to make it to Capitol Hill all in the saddle. Next time I think I’ll stay on Melrose all the way to Pine and see how that works. But hopefully next time won’t be too soon.

Today’s miles: 10.0 miles
October cumulative: 116.9 miles
Days missed: 2

Bike fenders on the bus

Oxbow Park was so fun last week we had to go again. I wanted to bike the whole way down, not because I was in the mood for an hour-long ride, but because I wasn’t sure about putting the arm of the bus bike rack on my fender. Unfortunately the kids were really looking forward to the Westlake Transit Tunnel so the bus it was.

I’d been putting the bike rack arm directly on the tire, in front of the fender, but when someone tried to help me last week and wanted to put it on the fender I took to Twitter to ask VeloBusDriver because that seemed easier than checking the Metro site. Now I know that yes, one should put the arm on the fender and not worry about it getting squished, but this morning I hadn’t yet decided what to do and just let the friendly guy who ran up and wanted to help put the arm where he wanted to (on the fender). It weathered the ride just fine and on the way home I noticed the sticker right on the arm of the rack making it clear to squish the fender.

Once we were Hat n’ Booted out, we took the 124 bus to King Street Station again, but didn’t take the long route along the waterfront home this time. Last week we discovered the tree sweaters are gone from Pioneer Square, but today we found a new batch in City Hall Park.

We had to get creative with layers on the way home. I had the foresight to bring a towel along to remove overnight rain from the slides, but I didn’t account for the boys playing in the drinking fountain and getting all wet. Wrapping the big kid in my sweater did the trick for him, but the little kid wouldn’t trade his damp sweater for dry jacket and seemed to be OK with just the addition of mittens. Time to become a better Pacific Northwesterner and travel with more layers.

Today’s miles: 14.8 miles
October cumulative: 106.9 miles
Days missed: 2