Archive | May 2013

Ballard Bike Street Party

Ballard Bike Street Party to celebrate the end of Bike Month. My Commute Challenge team was awesome! Even with me, the captain, laid up the last six days with the flu. Blech, I haven’t had the flu since 1988 and I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick. Now I just feel like I have a cold. Go Team Family Ride!

Team Family Ride

Riding to the street party was OK…though maybe it’s a sign I wasn’t quite ready to be out and about when I was riding head down, huffing up a teeny hill and didn’t realize the person I exchanged “hi!”s with was my husband. Fortunately the kids clued me in and he didn’t seem to notice I mistook him for a random well-wisher. We pulled over and he turned around to [wait while I finished a coughing fit and] check in.

The street party was big fun, with lots for kids. KEXP had this cool pedal-driven art project. A turntable spun a piece of paper around while kids squirted paint on it. And the bike! It’s a longtail cargo bike made by someone at 20/20 Cycle.

KEXP pedal-powered art bike

I was smitten by the kickstand:

KEXP cargo bike's kickstand

The Cascade bicycle license plate making was very popular, but my guys seemed to have the most fun with the magnetic board at the Elliott Bay Seawall Project.

Elliott Bay Seawall Project

Here’s the cutest bike passenger of the day. I think that’s an Outward Hound Pet-A-Roo Front Carrier worn on the back. (Outward Hound! I love it!)

Backpack doggie

Backpack doggie

The dog (and his human carrier) were in the “Share Your Style” Bike Fashion Show put on by Hub and Bespoke. As were we–they’ll let just anyone in! We did it last year, too. I couldn’t resist the free Fun Reflector stickers, Theo Chocolate, and bike t-shirt this year. It pays to play. I’ll stick a picture in here if one surfaces from Cascade or Hub and Bespoke.

Also in the fashion show was Ian of Bicycle Benefits ($5 sticker on your bike helmet saves you money at participating businesses all over town). This guy is so cool–read the Seattle Bike Blog profile on him.

Me and Ian of Bicycle Benefits

The Cycle Saloon was also at the party so the kids sat up on seats (and freaked out at being so high–babies) and I got to ask the driver some questions. Apparently passengers can have booze on board now! With an easy-to-obtain banquet license. I verified they don’t have a motor and a car battery runs the lights. On the way home we discovered there are two Cycle Saloons in the fleet when we saw another one on The Missing Link. Way to go, Cycle Saloon! (This picture is from a month ago, by the by.)

The Cycle Saloon

Once we got past The Missing Link I let my pedaler ride ahead of me. Then my balance biker wanted to join him for the last mile. It takes a lot longer and it’s often quite nerve wracking when they’re both out there, but I was very relieved not to have to lug them up that last hill. Good timing, too. I got home to read Kids are the true indicator species of a bike-friendly city, written by BikePortland’s Jonathan Maus while he’s visiting Copenhagen.

Kids riding solo

That’s Super Hi-Vis Man we’re riding by, by the way. A lot of people have been reporting seeing him (how can you not??) on the Burke-Gilman Trail lately.

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Our first bike rodeo

Local people, did you know you can borrow a bike rodeo kit from Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation for free? I’ve known, but hadn’t done so before today. I wasn’t sure of the kit’s size so I brought cargo bike and trailer. I think with careful loading (which I personally don’t find very easy with a kid or two along) and adequate tie-downs, I could have fit everything either in the trailer or on the bike. Plus, one can borrow just part of the kit for a smaller rodeo and less to carry. (It’s not a requirement you pick it up by bike, by the way, but that is, of course, the most awesome way to pick it up.)

Transporting the Bike Rodeo kit

Transporting the Bike Rodeo kit

This was the first time I’ve conducted a fun helmet fitting. Just approach a group of kids wearing your helmet sideways and ask what you’re doing wrong and once the giggles die down, everyone is very excited to have buckles adjusted and straps tightened.

We didn’t set up every station–mostly because I wasn’t very organized and hadn’t recruited sufficient volunteers, but many of the safety skills seemed more appealing for slightly older kids and our crew was largely made up of kindergarteners. Slow Race was my personal favorite. I especially liked shouting, “Ready! Set! Slow!” (That’s my own invention :))

Bike Rodeo slow race

As you can probably guess, the winner of Slow Race is the last racer to finish without leaving his/her lane or putting a foot to the ground. In the heat pictured below, racers were confronted with an oncoming balancing biking little sibling for extra excitement:

Bike Rodeo slow race

I had trouble drawing straight lines. I’d love to make something like the Chalktrail I could attach to my Big Dummy. Of course then I’d probably discover I can’t ride in a straight line very well, either.

Bike Rodeo slow race

We also did several rounds of Rock Dodge and Tight Turns. Kids repeatedly asked if we could have a Fast Race so I explained everything was safety skills related. I finally relented and said they could have their own unendorsed Medium Race. I don’t think that ended up happening, but things did devolve into a cone-running-over melee for a while.

I’d like to do another one and perhaps throw in some bike decorating and a parade at a certain time. For today’s event, a bunch of kids were ready right at 10am…but we weren’t! So that’s something to change for next time, too. Handing out stickers to race winners and then to everyone else seemed to keep everyone chipper–Cascade gave me a bunch of I [heart] Bikes stickers. The kit came with sidewalk chalk so we did fine without any extra equipment…though apparently it’s also very fun to bring one’s own spare old helmet and drop it from very high to demonstrate its usefulness.

Rounding up the Bike Rodeo

Heading to the rodeo, we bike trained in a more traditional manner–me in front of the kids. I usually have them go first so I can watch them and I wonder if it’s hard for parents to make the switch to trailing kids. Or do they start like that? It all makes me nervous.

A real-er bike train

Bike to School Day 2013

We had a very successful Bike to School Day! I’m not aware of a bike train to our school and would love to organize one soon, but right now it’s all we can do to get out the door on time. Also, we live so close to school we’d want to ride away from school (uphill, gah) to gather our train. Today we headed out early and encountered two families riding their bikes to school so we joined them for an impromptu bike train. Previous separate bike trips were ridden on the sidewalk, but this morning we were able to ride in the street. It was great!

First [impromptu] bike train

Lots of kids showed up on bike–so many that I ran out of red and blue Bike to School Day rubber bracelets. Cascade Bicycle Club gave me 100 of them and we counted 115 bikes, but I suspect there were quite a few kids on bikes we missed–many parents bring bikes away after dropoff and I only made note of two of these. I promised the very upset non-bracelet-receivers I’d get more bracelets before pickup.

Some of the 115 Bike to School Day bikes

Heading south we saw the beginning of construction of the new curb ramps and crosswalk to help Burke-Gilman Trail users across Pacific Street. I know a lot of people who consider a crosswalk on a street like this a safety hazard, creating a false sense of security for pedestrians and bicyclists (more on Marking and Signing Crosswalks from Safe Routes to School). I’m eager to see if the motorists traveling 50 mph (I think the speed limit is 30 mph, but they certainly seem to move faster) will stop more readily for schoolkids waiting to cross the street here.

New bigger curb ramp for soon-to-be crosswalk

Normally, I drop my preschooler off first on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, but since I was the bracelet-hander-outter, he went to school late today. I released him to ride on his own through the bike counter (#1897) and across the Fremont Bridge so he got quite a bit of biking to school in.

Bike to Preschool Day, too

Heading home from picking up 30 more bracelets–which I also ran out of, creating more tears!–I detoured from my usual route to avoid the crosswalk-installation mess and discovered a real traffic calming fixture–a new traffic circle at 41st and Sunnyside. The neighbors will take care of the landscaping so I’ll check back in a bit for flowers.

New Wallingford traffic circle

After school we went in search of a new kid bike helmet. The kids rode all the way to Recycled Cycles–it took forever. Normally we’d be on the Burke-Gilman Trail here, but there’s a long-term closure during the Burke-Gilman Trail UW makeover. This stretch of road is half one-way for cars and half two-way for bikes. I like it.

Biking after Bike to School Day

We struck out on blue kid helmet at Recycled Cycles, so back we went. Here’s the above street in the other direction. I had talked the little guy onto my bike so we moved a little more quickly now. And much more quickly than all the cars stuck at the five-way stop.

More biking after Bike to School Day

At Gregg’s we found the perfect helmet. I think it looks teal and pink, but he says it’s blue so we’re good. Now we all have Giros.

New helmet, traffic circle boat

I doubt the decorators of the new traffic circle will be inspired by the Tangletown traffic circle boat, but we adore it. Its accessories seem to change every time we swing by–last week there was an oil painting propped on its windshield.

To wrap up on the Bike to School stuff, the resources I utilized were Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day and locally: Cascade Bicycle Club Bike to School and Walk.Bike.Schools!.

Exploring new routes (Capitol Hill to Seward Park)

How do you go about finding bike routes? I start with Google maps directions and adjust per the local Seattle Neighborhood Greenways map(s). If I’m at all confused, I’ll solicit opinions from the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group since most of the members have similar requirements to mine–not too steep, not too busy–and we’re spread throughout the city. If I’m out and about I usually only use my Bike Maps app, though it only gives one choice and from current location to the spot I plug in. I know several people who swear by Ride the City and gmap-pedometer. What do you find most helpful?

Today the toddler and I scouted routes from Capitol Hill to Seward Park for the upcoming Critical Lass/Family Bike Seattle CycloFemme ride. This isn’t the route we’ll use, but I quite liked it:

It was my first time in the I-90 Bike Tunnel and the only steep part of the ride was the half block up Irving on the east end of the tunnel. It was OK with just one kid on the back, but I’m not sure I’d make it up with both kids and their bikes. Obviously, I’ll just have to come back and give it a try!

In the I-90 Bike Tunnel

This was also my first time on the Mountains-to-Sound Trail (or MTS trail if you’re cool). I’d like to explore more of it.

On the MTS trail

I wish I’d taken more pictures of the lovely view while we were up high, but we wound our way down through Colman Park before I knew it. We stopped in at Leschi Starbucks where I ran into my doula on her mountain bike. Between the two of us and the BMX bike locked out front, it must have been the first time in the history of the Lake Washington Loop that the roadies were outnumbered by non-roadies. There were just two capital-C-cyclists there, one airing out his feet al fresco and one quietly studying his Strava inside. A bit along the Lake Washington Loop we stopped to squash Mount Rainier. Beautiful day for it!

Squashing Mount Rainier

Seattle Family Bike Meetup May 4 recap

If you’re a current or future family biker, in Seattle, and on Facebook, join the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group for fun events like today’s meetup! Lots of biking families and prospective biking families convened at South Lake Union Park to examine, inquire about, and test ride family biking rigs. Morgan Scherer from Family Bike Seattle was on hand with her Family Bike Expo, too–there were a lot of bikes today!

Seattle Family Biking meetup

I saw a lot of great stuff, like an adult in a Bullitt box:

Adult in the Bullitt box

Side-by-side comparison of Bullitt and Workcycles bakfiets:

Bullitt and bakfiets side by side

Creative DIY passenger foot harness on a Yuba Boda Boda:

DIY foot harness on Boda Boda

That Boda Boda was a big hit! I rode it before the owner attached the Bobike mini to the front and it was a dream. I test rode the floor model at JRA (where this one is from) a while back, but that was just a quick little circle while the kids looked on. Today’s longer ride was super fun. Its shape seems well-suited to the front seat so I don’t think I would have felt any difference.

Morgan on the Boda Boda

The Boda Boda family also has a Kona Ute with these cool kid foot pegs. I think Recycled Cycles devised them.

Foot peg on Kona Ute

I cannot believe I didn’t get a picture of it, but the big hit of the day was the Xtracycle EdgeRunner built up by Ride Bicycles. It’s Zone Blue with two orange kid seats. I got a picture of its environmentally–friendly Selle Royal Becoz saddle:

Selle Royal Becoz saddle

The cargo-carrying elements are yet to be added–no side bags or front basket–so they carried a kid bike on their regular bike-strapped to the rear rack with a strap they found in the garage right before heading out. I worry they’ll lose the knack for packing so well once they’re spoiled by the cargo bike.

Balance bike on regular bike's rear rack

At least I got a picture of Tyler on my Big Dummy. He’s riding with his own kid and Davey Oil’s Little Oil. Davey wasn’t there, but his EdgeRunner and kid were.

Tyler on the mamabike

Later in the day the kids and I rode with Spokespeople to Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest where we saw this Kinetic Expedir cargo ebike. It was fun to ride–twisting the handlebar made it shoot forward. Apparently one can pedal while using the motor, by why would you? I zoomed around, cackling, with my feet off the pedals.

Kinetic Expedir at Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest

After Spokespeople I returned to South Lake Union Park solo on my road bike to return Davey’s EdgeRunner. Despite the smaller (20 inches rather than 26) rear wheel, the deck and Yepp kid seat sit almost as high as on my Big Dummy due to the gap between wheel and FlightDeck for the e-assist’s battery. The bike felt the same as mine on flat ground, but it’s a surprisingly nimble climber. I think it’s a combination of the small wheel being especially good for climbing and the mountain bike gearing Davey’s got on this one. Having the weight of the seat all the way forward probably helps, too, though I experienced a bit of heel strike.

Preparing to taxi the EdgeRunner to its home

I thought about ignoring the e-assist since I’m not used to it, but I changed my mind after a few blocks. However, poking at buttons didn’t turn it on (apparently there was a key to turn that Davey told me about, but I’m not used to listening to instructions about e-assist, either) so I tried to keep up with Barbara on her MinUte as we scaled Capitol Hill. We didn’t want to go out of the way to hit my usual flat-enough route, but even on this sportier number, it was hard going. We switchbacked up between Roy and Mercer and eventually made it up up up.

Photo courtesy Davey Oil

Photo courtesy Davey Oil