Archive | June 2013

Taking the lane

Sometimes something amazingly significant happens in the course of a busy weekend and I worry about it getting lost in the shuffle.

Last weekend was huge: DRT on Friday (which entailed DRT prep ALLDAYLONG), Critical Lass/Fremont Fair/HONK! Fest West Saturday, and Family Bike Expo Sunday. But buried within were 5 minutes that rocked my world.

Saturday morning I set out alone on my cyclocross bike the ride the DRT course one last time, removing course markings–or decorations if you prefer a more accurate description. A Kidical Masser will mark a course with sidewalk chalk and birthday balloons, just so ya know.


Heading down towards Ravenna Park, I saw a guy and kid on a Brompton. Aw! A bit down the hill behind them I noticed another kid-carrying Brompton. What are the odds? I knew Katie was in town from Portland and had borrowed a second IT chair from Julian of Totcycle. Sure enough, it was them. I decided to finish balloon collecting later and rode back towards home with Katie and crew.

Portlanders in Seattle

They wanted to check out the Wallingford Greenway on their way to a residence near the zoo and had already mapped things out so I followed alongside as we pedaled south and turned right on 45th. Uh, big street!

I often wonder how my bicycling would differ had I lived in Seattle before kids. There are a lot of streets I opt to avoid all together, if possible, or more often, take to the sidewalk–especially if they’re slightly (or more than slightly) uphill with little or no shoulder. I’m not often out on a bike alone, but on those rare occasions, I stay off the sidewalk for the most part, but it’s such a habit on roads close to home that I ride the route of my slow-moving kid conveyor automatically. 45th through U-District is one of those streets.

It was enlightening to see Katie and Dave confidently take the lane without batting an eye. And it wasn’t because we were a group, but because that’s what one is supposed to do.

I hear the term taking the lane often, but with one right turn I realized I’ve been doing so much wrong! I should have realized this two weeks ago when I got buzzed by a Prius. I didn’t hear a thing and suddenly it was two inches to my right. I blamed the Prius. But that’s the thing–I made it appear there was room to pass so she did.

But back to today…we crossed I-5 in the right lane and I should have led our bikey group two lanes over, into the righthand left turning lane, but I was on autopilot and before I knew it, there wasn’t time to move left so I apologetically told them I usually head onto the sidewalk to push the walk button to make the left turn. Of course a car had pulled into the intersection and was blocking the curb cut so I apologized about that, too. I find myself apologizing a lot when riding around our city with others.

When the light turned I pointed out most cars are getting onto the freeway so we should have the right lane to ourselves. Dave didn’t hear me and rode up onto the sidewalk. Of course I felt apologetic about that, too. I’ve seen tons of people ride the sidewalk there, but still.

One block later we turned right onto Seattle’s first Neighborhood Greenway. Phew.

As we rode along, I shared my favorite zoo routes: “I usually ride the sidewalk of 46th because it’s the least steep” (Shut UP, Madi! Shut UP!) “…uh, but you’ll probably prefer 50th because there’s a bike lane, though you’ll have to use the crosswalks to make the left turn and they take forever.” Yes, yes, they’d gone on 50th yesterday, it was fine.

We parted ways a few blocks later and I swapped bikes to lead Critical Lass with the kids and our happy group took the lane on NW 58th St as we checked the progress of the Ballard Greenway and not until much later in the day–maybe when I navigated my way through cars in the Westlake parking lot or through naked painted people in Gas Works Park, I can’t remember which–the enormity of the ride with Katie hit me.

It’s going to be hard to change my bad habit of hugging the right of the lane too closely, but I’m going to work at it.

And there are classes! Cascade Bicycle Club offers Urban Cycling Techniques–tomorrow, even! I’d like to take a class alone, but there’s even an option for families–Family Biking Skills, with the next class on September 22nd.

Thrifting by bike

I think this was our first time donating a full bike-load by bike. It was fun to wait in the drop-off line behind a car. The kids were totally into it–probably since this was their first self-directed toy purging. They regaled the donation guy with stories about the retired toys.

Dropping off donations

The idea was to travel to the thrift shop with a full bike and home with nothing new…or maybe just a couple kid clothing items. I found the kid clothing items, but also a set of like-new TV trays. $12.99–or $9.99 considering the $3 off coupon our donation netted us. Now my laptop has a stable perch. And I get to bring our old usable-but-wobbly TV trays to the thrift store next trip! And, OK, OK, a couple toys came home with us, too.

TV trays on board

Our TV trays then accompanied us to the zoo for a couple hours and finally along to the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium where our bike was part of the Family Bike Expo. I was a little embarrassed to show up with an impulse purchase on my bike, but I guess it’s appropriate and authentic of family biking.

Photo courtesy Leya B.

Photo courtesy @LMBikes

Feed bags! (Or musettes to sound classy)

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I got the idea for these while reading one of the numerous CPSC recalls involving infant/child products newsletter about hooded sweatshirt drawstrings posing strangulation hazards.

Kids feeding with feed bags

I picked up some locally-made ReUsies snack and sandwich bags during a half-off sale, but anyone more crafty than I can DIY it: with cloth and PUL or oilcloth which that tutorial just taught me is the same thing–I had no idea!

I found two of my removed hoodie drawstrings–sadly, not because of the recall, but because it annoys me when my three-year old tugs on them–and cut them to a length that would fit over kiddie helmets because I know I’m not organized enough to remember to distribute feed bags before helping get helmets on. Then I just sewed them into the sandwich bags, near the edge so I don’t compromise their waterproofness. Voila!

Feed bag

I think constant snacks might be enough to keep Little Man Strangle Hands from messing with his brother once it gets too hot to keep the snowboard jacket/straitjacket on. He wore it today–the exposed toddler arms above are just for the sake of the picture.