Archive | April 2013

Until we meet again, 30 Days of Biking

And that’s the end of another 30 Days of Biking. We biked a whopping 387.5 miles this month. More than the 350 miles last April, but while the quantity is exciting to make note of, it’s more about the quality. And we had some quality experiences this month! We got hard core multimodal with bike/bus trips all over the place, did some bike moving, used the car just once, and our most exciting cargo load was a tandem trail-a-bike.

Today was wonderful. Everyone on the Burke-Gilman Trail smiled at us…although there’s a slight chance they were all grimacing at the unexpected rain. Despite the drizzle, we had a great ride to school. Martina from Swift Industries pulled up alongside and slowed to our speed for a bit for a chat, we spoke with a woman on foot at a red light about how much we like biking everywhere, and we talked to a cyclist in the Fremont bike box who told us he normally pulls a kid in a trailer. Just an ordinary day, made extraordinary by biking.

Today’s miles: 9.4
April miles: 387.5

Readying for Bike to School Month

My last-minute preparing for Bike to School Month meant I got to take a surprise trip to the school district office in SODO to get permission to distribute my sign-up sheets.

School District Office

I was impressed to see there’s a bike rack and six bike lockers there–I had expected no bike facilities.

Bike rack and bike lockers at school district office

I took 3rd Avenue South and it was quite nice (though the Busway Trail/SODO Trail is two blocks to the east and even nicer)–not a lot of car movement (at this hour of the day, anyway) and hey, that crazy bus used to park by the Magnolia train yard!

3rd Ave S in SODO

The bike lanes connecting to Royal Brougham were nice–and OMG Amtrak shunting engine pushing a Sounder train car!

Bike lane in SODO

But I wish I’d taken Royal Brougham to the west instead of east because I ended up on 4th which is pretty busy–three lanes in either direction, no bike lane, and at this moment a big FedEx truck blocking the rightmost lane.

4th Ave S is not so nice

I moved a block over to 3rd before the awful dark bridge and shared space with bunches of buses. Seattle buses are great–very courteous and aware of bicycles and pedestrians. Until we get our downtown cycletracks, I think 3rd is the street I dislike the least.

Riding with buses on 3rd

Today’s miles: 14.7
April miles: 378.1

Riding four separate bikes

I was a little tired from yesterday so we puttered around the house and yard all day, which naturally meant lots of screaming and fighting. I don’t only bike because it’s fun–it’s also very necessary for our sanity to get out of the house :) Mr. Family Ride finished work and had the excellent idea to ride bikes to dinner. Someday I’ll take a regular bike for trips like this, but I was worried I might have to carry a kid or two, so I brought the Big Dummy. We took the Neighborhood Greenway, grownups in the street, kids on the sidewalk.

Separate bikes to dinner

My daily miles reflect a trip to the copy shop later in the night to make Bike to School Month handouts–it’s always fun to transition from 30 Days of Biking to Bike Month. Dinner was only 0.6 miles each way, but we could probably get the kids to go farther, especially since it’s all downhill to get home.

Separate bikes back home

The downhills are a little tricky with a cautious six-year old riding his coaster brake the whole way (he often walks these hills, but opted to ride today!) while the fearless three-year old careens down and reaches the corner before the rest of us have barely gotten started. At least he waits patiently for us and cheerily waves cars by.

Heading downhill at varying speeds

Today’s miles: 2.4
April miles: 363.4

Transporting a *tandem* trail-a-bike

It was a spontaneous thing–we were already in Ballard and while I’d ideally have used my WideLoader and attempted this with one or zero kids in tow, today turned out to be a good day to pick up Karen’s tandem trail-a-bike. Her two kids mostly ride solo so she recently Xtracycled her mountain bike. Now she can ride solo and haul one or both kids and their bikes if need be. The kids of the TAB’s new owner won’t grow into it for a couple years so she’s letting the Family Bike organization borrow it in the interim and I’m just the courier, ferrying it from one garage to another.

Tandem trail-a-bike in the FreeLoader

The current tandem folder trail-a-bike weighs 34 pounds so this one probably does, too, but it’s a heavy 34 pounds. I’m also not the most effective cargo packer so I’m sure I made things harder than necessary. I was worried that if I carried it on the right side of my bike, it would interfere with the gears, but having it on the left side meant the gear shifter poked my front kid in the back a bit and a bolt dug into my left thigh. A smarter person would have found a tool and taken off the bolt. I opted to ride a few blocks until a bruise formed and then ride most of the remaining 6.5 miles one-handed so I could hold the hitch off my leg. The good news is that the bruise will remind me for a quite a while “at least I’m not towing a tandem trail-a-bike right now!”

Snack stop

Today’s miles: 25.1
April miles: 363.4

First time in the car during 30 Days of Biking

Well thank goodness I didn’t make an official pledge to avoid driving this month–I got in the car today. But we combined trips (three bike shops!) and carried three bikes so there’s that.

I recently decided to sell my Kustom Kruiser Kozmopolitan beach cruiser. It used to be my everyday bike, but I seldom ride it these days so I’m ready to bid it farewell that it may become someone else’s everyday bike. I’m consigning it at Alki Bike and Board, hoping the right beachy person will see it and take it home. Mr. Family Ride is letting his beach cruiser go, too. His cruiser is the first bike I carried my eldest on, five years ago. Sniff. It’s the end of an era. No, the end of two eras. Sniff sniff.

Cruisers on the car

Our first stop was Recycled Cycles to retrieve the Danish Mosquito. They weren’t able to fix the gears, but called Aaron’s Bicycle Repair and discovered the necessary parts are there. I couldn’t get the Mosquito to fit on the rack, but fortunately I only had one kid in the car so I was able to shove it in the back seat.

Mosquito in the car

We dropped the cruisers off first. Here’s a pedal-powered behemoth behind the shop. You can see it in action at Alki Summer Streets.

I don't know what this is, but it has pedals

Then on to Aaron’s new location in White Center. Sadly, the new shop is too small for the Lego table. Outside, he’s turned the closest parking spot into a bike corral with bike rack and bench. Inside we admired the Xtracycled tall bike next to a mini bike (ha ha ha) and played with the cats while Aaron got the Mosquito’s internally-geared hub working again.

Bike parking at Aaron's

My only pedaling today was riding the Mosquito down to kindergarten pickup. The kids are still adjusting to their bigger bikes so I walked the Mosquito back home while the big kid rode the little kid’s bike. I hadn’t counted on the musical bikes so we’ll do some practicing at a park before we attempt getting to or from school this way again.

Musical bikes

I should probably mention my ridiculous car-less Plan A:
Alki Bike and Board and Aaron’s are both fairly far from me (11 miles and 13.5 mile respectively) and up very big hills so Plan A was to hook the trailer to my beach cruiser and somehow stick the three-year old and road bike in it, ride six flattish miles to the water taxi, and put everything on the bus up the hill to Alki Bike and Board (or lock up the road bike and trailer while we delivered the cruiser if they wouldn’t let it all on the bus). It would have taken all day and only taken care of one of the three bikes. So thank you for today, car. Maybe we can do this again in a few months.

Today’s miles: 3 blocks
April miles: 338.3

Getting bikes up high

While our kiddos were all in school, Alyssa and I rode our small bikes 16 miles around Magnolia. Here’s my new Knog Milkman lock keeping our bikes safe while we break for coffee. It’s tiny and light and I’ll keep it in my messenger bag so I’m never lockless.

Knog Milkman

On the way home I stopped to stick my bike on the new traffic circle boat. When I’m out with the liftable bike, I gotta lift it onto things!

Bike on the traffic circle boat

Back on the non-liftable bike, we met friends at Gas Works Park after preschool, which meant I had to ride up kite hill (it’s possible up the south side). Now I’m wondering if I can get the little bike up the more switchback-y north side…

Top of Gas Works

Today’s miles: 26.1
April miles: 338.2

Biking to the new train station

After delivering the kids to school I planned to attend the Grand Reopening of King Street Station’s Main Waiting Room, but it felt like the universe was conspiring against me. At home I was plagued with various wardrobe problems and equipment problems, but I eventually got the trailer assembled (to drop off at preschool), sort of attached my light, and headed out…only to run into traffic problems galore. This truck in the bike lane was the least of my worries.

Surprise, surprise: truck in the bike lane

At the bottom of Stone Way a guy in an SUV revved his engine and sped into his left turn as soon as the light turned green in order to tailgate the driver of a small car who turned right on red into the lane first. The tailgated motorist pulled over into the bike lane to let the SUV driver pass. And behind them came a man in a minivan with his cell phone to his ear. I came along slowly after all that excitement and wondered which of the three was the biggest threat to my safety: the road rager, the victim of road rage, or the distracted phone talker? I think it was probably the car that pulled over to escape the road rager.

Then I still saw a driver run a red light, met with a driver coming the wrong way up a one-way street towards me, and waited patiently while a construction truck turned left through a red light at the intersection I was about to cross. Sheesh!

But I finally made it to Back Alley Bike Repair, bought a new lock (one of my many equipment problems), and biked to the train station with Ben Rainbow. We didn’t notice the bike racks hidden by the construction fence–the outside of the station still needs some work–so we locked up against a planter.

Train station, hidden bike racks

I moved to the bike racks after Ben returned to the shop. There are seven of them. Covered! And nicely spaced for big bikes! Amtrak currently doesn’t allow cargo bikes on trains, but at least they can be comfortably parked while conducting business, picking up friends, or while figuring out what to do upon being denied passage.

Train station bike racks

And the train station lobby is gorgeous:

King Street Station waiting room

Heading home I passed by City Hall Park and saw the “chandeliers” the Bubbleman makes from discarded six pack rings and zip ties. And I didn’t experience any more bad motorist behavior.

Bubbleman art at City Hall Park

Today’s miles: 19.8
April miles: 312.1