Archive | September 2013

A bit of PARK(ing) Day 2013

The four-year old and I checked out some PARK(ing) Day parks today. There were 40 Seattle PARK(ing) Day parks listed, but we chose 10 that seemed fairly close together and on flat terrain for a 2-mile ride around downtown (plus 4-mile ride to the first park and 5-mile ride home from the last).

On the way down we discovered a guy tossing out several planks of wood. Just yesterday we built little stairs in the backyard for Bettie the Dog and the kids really wanted to add a ramp (because that’s exactly what every sight-impaired, elderly chihuahua wants!) and boom, here was our ramp! So I biked around a bit more of a spectacle than normal with trailing kiddie bike and plank of wood.

Plank score!

Most of the park visitors we saw were on lunch breaks from nearby buildings and discovered the event while walking around, but we also saw a group of friends biking from park to park. And Seattle Neighborhood Greenways had an organized Greenways Go to PARK(ing) Day Downtown we caught up to at our 9th stop.

Stop one was the ReLEAF & Urban Forestry miniature urban forest:

Mini urban forest

Check out Dougie, the googly-eyed Douglas fir. He was at Fiestas Patrias last weekend, thus the “Hola soy Dougie” name tag. Que lindo!

Hola soy Dougie

Stop two was Weber Thompson’s “Carmageddon” putt-putt golf through buried cars.

Carmageddon putt-putt golf

Stops three, four, and five were three of the four Cornish College of the Arts parks. We drew with sidewalk chalk, drank lemonade while playing board games, and made a crown and sword.

Cornish College of the Arts craft projects

Stop six was SDOT & Puget Sound Bike Share. The “Choose your mode adventure” transportation obstacle course was great! We used the scooter, but there was also a kiddie bike, hoppity hop ball, and hula hoops.

SDOT obstacle course

They wouldn’t let me ride the Puget Sound Bike Share (coming Spring 2014!) bike, but they let me lift it. It wasn’t too heavy. I think I’ve read they weigh 35 pounds. My bike is 75 pounds so I call that light!

Puget Sound Bike Share display

The prizes were pretty great–small kid activity book and bigger kid comic book, crayons, sidewalk chalk, and stuff for grown ups. And Whole Foods had drinks and dog treats to go.

SDOT prizes

Stop seven Bohlin Cywinski Jackson bean bag toss.

Bean bag toss

Stop eight was Zipcar & Timbuk2 for the stationary bike time trials. We were so sure we’d win the prize bag, but the kid couldn’t reach the pedals and my showing just wasn’t good enough. This bike is one of the three Timbuk2 free bike share bikes.

Timbuk2 time trial bike

Stop nine was the very exciting Cascade Bicycle Club temporary cycletrack. This was why I dragged the kid bike along today. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I didn’t think it’d be the entire block long! It was great. We hit a red light so I got the little guy ready across the intersection and he followed the temporary bike lane markings across Madison and into the cycletrack. We both loved it and rode it twice.

Temporary cycletrack!!

And finally: Stop ten SAM & Trust for Public Land had painting. With easels and brushes–though I’m sure finger painting would have been cool, too.

Painting at SAM

Henry was on site working on a piece, too. Talk about a striking resemblance! Though instead of a sasquatch, ours features a tree running with hot lava. Henry stopped by to check it out and I could tell he wished he’d thought of that. Keep an eye out for a Lava Owls mural, I’m tellin’ ya.

Henry vs. Lava Owls

I’d hoped to help create and run a PARK(ing) Day park of our own for FamilyBike Seattle, but I didn’t get it together this year. However, expect something awesome next year! And feel free to send me any great ideas–I don’t actually have any yet.

The other way up Capitol Hill

I recently used and shared my sole cargo bike route up Capitol Hill, mentioning I had better route for next time. Next time came today!

My usual method for finding routes is to start with the Google maps suggestion viewed in terrain-view, compare it to the appropriate Seattle Neighborhood Greenways maps to make adjustments, and if I need more help, ask locals via the Seattle Family Biking Facebook group, or locals and more via Twitter. But this new route I was lucky enough to get from Julie Salathe, Cascade Bicycle Club‘s Education Director, when we were emailing about the last CycloFemme and she realized I really don’t know my way around.

Read the details–this is not a route Google would give:

When you go over the Montlake Bridge on the West side, stay on the sidewalk. Then you can descend on a little path under 520 and down to the Montlake playfield before you cross the hwy ramps. When you leave the Montlake playfield and turn left on East Lynn, take one of the first rights into a driveway for the Greek Church, and then go up a little dirt path thru the trees on the left and you’ll come out in a little stub that leads to E Blaine. Go on E Blaine instead of Howe, then right on Howe (at the end of Blaine).

Then, once you’re on Highland, I usually take the first alley for a few blocks, since one block of 20th is one way. Then go one more block in alley after Aloha, then go back to 20th. Then you can go through the Miller community center sidewalk (by the soccerfields) and you come out on 21st. Cross Thomas, then go back over to 20th. Cross Madison at 20th in crosswalk.

It took me an hour (versus Google’s estimate of 42 minutes, though I never take that for truth on the mamabike) with a few small course corrections and picture stops.

Here’s the first exciting part–secret path (well, at least to me; not to the many bicyclists I saw down there) to Montlake Playfield right next to the freeway onramp.

Path to Montlake Playfield

It was beautiful and leafy down there, too. I’m a sucker for signage, for multi-use trails, and for nature tucked into urban spots.

Trail through Montlake Playfield

And check out these sharrows at the southeast corner of Montlake Playfield:

Sharrows into/out of Montlake Playfield

I misinterpreted the directions for the dirt path next to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and cut through the empty parking lot:

St. D's parking lot

but this is the cute little path I should have been on before the nice paved alley by the trees.

Single track next to St. D's

I didn’t like the block along 24th Avenue East and stuck to the sidewalk (four-lane road, uphill, with no sharrow or shoulder), but then I got to the car-free part of Interlaken Park:

Car-free route through Interlaken Park

It was beautiful! Check out the wall of ferns where I stopped to stick sweaters on the kids:

Ferny Interlaken

The car-free part of Interlaken was more-or-less flat, but once we got to Interlaken Drive–which we’ve taken several times in the downhill direction–it got a little less fun. The map says it was less than a mile and it wasn’t too steep, but it felt sooo long. I think I’ll need to ride this route a few more times to better appreciate it. I’m a subscriber to “the hill you know is less painful than the hill you don’t know” so I need to get better acquainted with this slope.

But after an uphill block of 19th (on which I followed a few tired-looking bikers–that made me feel a bit better!) we hopped over to three quiet blocks of flat alley. I didn’t see other bikes in here so I don’t know if it’s a common cut-through like the rest of this lovely route.

Alley alongside 20th

Here’s the path through Miller Park. There’s a play structure to the right, and apparently a splash park (though not open this late in the month) beyond that, by the community center.

Cutting through Miller Park

I didn’t see a bike loop detector for triggering the light at Madison, but fortunately one of my passengers was willing to hop off and push the walk button.

Crossing Madison

Then finally: Central Cinema for Cartoon Happy Hour! Apparently car traffic was horrendous this evening: one friend arrived an hour later than us (we were five minutes late), while another had to give up en route once she realized how long it would take. The friend who walked two blocks to the theater beat us all there.

Arrived at Central Cinema

I took the familiar route home, up 19th, through Interlaken Park to the northwest corner, then follow the bike dots to the University Bridge. A nice thing about the University Bridge is that it’s so high that it’s not a painful climb to 45th Street. Those four gradual blocks followed by a bit of downhill to get home are sometimes a lot nicer than the two steep blocks home if I take the direct route. Yeah, I have to negotiate my way through the U-District and cross over the freeway (I take the sidewalk), but leaving the Burke-Gilman Trail to cross Pacific and then 40th is no picnic, either.

The kids liked the route enough to fall asleep. Good night!

Sleeping passenger

The mamachari is here!

While much of the world is checking out what’s new in bicycling at Interbike, I’m getting giddy about something old–a mamachari, the typical Japanese mamabike.

I know of one mamachari in Seattle, brought from Japan when a family moved and then sold to a lucky friend cheaply when they outgrew it. This seems to be the most common way to obtain a mamachari in America as they’re hard to ship affordably.

A mamachari in Seattle!

But this mamachari (red!) that has me giddy is the latest and greatest.

Mama Bicycle blog author and mamachari evangelist, Shuichi, has shipped a Bridgestone Angelino to us! The bike will reside with FamilyBike Seattle (of which I’m on the board) and be available for test rides and short-term rental.

G & O Family Cyclery has generously volunteering to assemble the bike, but due to a shipping snafu, the three boxes ended up the Ballard post office instead of G & O, enabling today’s adventure! Davey Oil (the “O” of G & O Family Cyclery) and I biked to the Ballard post office only to be told it was at the other Ballard post office yesterday (What?! There are two post offices in Ballard? Yes: there’s also the Ballard Carrier Annex post office on 9th. Huh.)…

…but had since been shipped back to Japan. They probably weren’t on the boat just yet and we could try to fill out a shop shipment form, but that would cost $11 and it probably wouldn’t work. (Again: What?! And of course we’d pay a mere $11 to save our boxes!) But before the clerk could further dismay us, the neighboring clerk leaned over and said we’d have to go to the annex and figure it out there.

So Davey and I left the wrong post office, flabbergasted, and trudged (well, the pedaling equivalent of trudged, anyway) our way a mile to the carrier annex. We were greeted at the door by a cheerful clerk who said of course the boxes were there! She’d been expecting us! Thank. Goodness. I’m completely confused about whom the first clerk spoke to on the phone at the annex, but whatever. The boxes were here!

Mamachari boxes

It seems either of us could have fit all three boxes on one of our bikes–I was rolling completely cargo-ready: left the Yepp seat at preschool, left the first grader’s helmet fastened to his school’s bike rack, outfitted my bike with one Xtracycle WideLoader and one friend-made running board, but I merely secured one box to my FlightDeck. Davey pulled more weight with a box on either side. He’ll want me to point out his bike has electric assist.

Then it was just a straightforward 2.5-mile gradual uphill pedal to the shop, where we met Tyler, the “G” of G & O Family Cyclery. He happily posed on my bike.

O & G of G & O Family Cyclery. And mamachari boxes

And I got my first peek inside the shop. It’s going to be great! And so is the mamachari! I’ll have a mamachari update in a week or so.

Replacing stolen items

Someone stole our double bike trailer from the back of our shared car port. Fortunately they didn’t also take the kids’ bikes or our helmets. Or cut the lock and take my bike. I don’t use the trailer often, but I like having it for a variety of reasons. It’s great for cargo, such as when we borrowed the Cascade bike rodeo kit. And I could never have braved Snowmageddon without it. Not to mention, it’s an integral part of the mix-and-match bike. My most common use last school year was to haul it the two miles to preschool, empty, and leave it there so I could swap to my road bike after dropping of at elementary school (which is only two blocks from home) and then not worry about having to factor in a second bike swap before 1pm. It’s an awesome little trick and I’m pissed I can’t do it anymore.

My former trailer

Not one to waste space (and not one to carry stuff into the house), the trailer also served as a storage bin. That means the thief also made off with our trunk bike rack and my snowboard jacket–better known as my four-year old’s “straitjacket” which keeps him warm in the winter while keeping his hands away from his brother’s grabbable hoods and neck. I’m sure there were a few other things in there I’ll soon realize are gone.

If I were to get a new trailer, I’d go for a Wike Moonlight Trailer. I first read about them on Pedal Powered Family. The iBikeuBike family has one and loves it, too. I’ve met both families, but haven’t actually seen their trailers! Not that I need to see one to know I want it.

But Seattle has a robust Craigslist classifieds site–which is how we originally got the trailer and trunk rack–so I started there. I didn’t see another $40 trailer, but I saw a nice, cheap trunk rack. Our Craigslist might be a bit too robust because I also so a nice-looking 20-inch BMX-style kiddie bike. The Danish Mosquito is extremely sturdy, but it doesn’t seem appropriate for my six-year old to use for the free kiddie lap at the cyclocross races. It’s not as light as the 16-inch Sparkle BMX bike, but it’s lighter than the Mosquito.

New stuff

But the story gets better! While we were loading up the bike and I wondered where I could hide it so Mr. Family Ride wouldn’t notice it, the seller told me about their old trailer they’re soon planning to sell. I expressed interest in it and thought I got “dibs”, but when he called his wife out to see my crazily loaded bike and I realized I know her! I think that sealed the deal. She’s one of the moms from the Walk.Bike.Schools group and I just saw her last week at a meeting! Now I just need to wait for them to upgrade to a real cargo trailer. In the meantime, I might need to learn a little more about trailer attachments. Our cheapie red trailer had the little clamp that cinches to any bar and worked well on my road bike and Big Dummy (though Mr. Family Ride wouldn’t want to use it on his commuter bike with disc brakes). This trailer came with one of those, but they’ve replaced it with the better sort of clamp.

I had planned to put the bike in one pocket and the trunk rack in the other, but we hit the grocery store before our first pickup and I ran out of room. It fared OK in my front basket, though. The truck rack seller delivered it to our meeting spot by bike, by the way :)

New stuff and groceries

The bike was on Phinney Ridge so I got to take a closer look at the Greenwood Phinney Greenways pop-up Greenway. I saw it while heading home from the Ballard Greenways Celebration and thought it was a real Greenway! The signs looked metal and the painted speed humps looked real from half a block away.

Pop-up Greenway sign

The cross streets also had faux speed humps. I hope to see more of these soon. And then real Greenways shortly thereafter.

Pop-up Greenway faux speed hump

Kidmiles

A fellow family biker recently coined the term “kidmiles” to describe miles biked with a kid on board. I agree those miles deserve a special name (that special name is kidkilometers where appropriate, by the way).

I have to admit I feel incredibly accomplished (or more worn out, sometimes) if I pedal a lot of two-kids-and-their-two-kid-bikes-miles, but today I had just one kid. Still counts as kidmiles, but easier kidmiles. I weighed the Big Dummy at the vet’s office recently and discovered it’s 76.4 pounds. I think the four-year old is 35 pounds and we had minimal stuff.

It was supposed to be sunny and 80 degrees today, but it stayed cool and cloudy so this isn’t the pretty photo essay I thought it’d be, but we saw some cool stuff nonetheless.

The one-kid big kidmile day

First stop: Westlake Center, where I gave the bike an extra pat goodbye as I left her under the monorail tracks. I’ve seen a lot of ravaged bikes on that rack.

Parked at Westlake Center

But she was still there after we bought FOUR new bike bells at Daiso.

Ding ding ding ding

And this wind sock–shown here at our second stop, Back Alley Bike Repair in Pioneer Square.

Nord Alley

The Back Alley visit was for a new pair of socks. Many choices, but I figured I’d go for the big wheels and represent the kiddie set at tomorrow’s StarCrossed cyclocross race. Hoping all the kidmiles will help me on the course!

New socks: Go big or go home

Then Pike Place Market. Partially because unless I want to go way out of the way along the waterfront, the easiest route is up Western Avenue that ends at the market, but mostly because I wanted Briar Rose Creamery truffles and one of the two places to get them in Seattle is Beechers Handmade Cheese. We also grabbed a balloon animal, watched the fish throwing, and ate a bagel in the park. Crowded place, but fun!

Pike Place Market

And the trip home took us past Velo Bike Shop so I could check out the old Chinese baby bike seat I’ve been admiring through the window.

Velo Bike Shop

If this bike were in use, the seat would be closer to the front of the bike.

Old Chinese bike at Velo

Old Chinese bike at Velo

Old Chinese bike at Velo

Old Chinese bike at Velo

I like the double kickstand, too.

Old Chinese bike at Velo

Then on to the world-class separated bike lane on Dexter. Ha.

Delivery truck in the Dexter bike lane

Another delivery truck in the Dexter bike lane

But I was impressed with the TRAFFIC MERGE WITH BIKES sign once passing the delivery trucks blocking the bike lane. I’ve only seen BIKES MERGE WITH TRAFFIC before. Nice to know they made a special one. Never mind that bikes are traffic, too.

Traffic merge with bikes

The little guy requested we swing by the Densmore bike tree on our way home so that meant a ride by the Essential Bakery salmon bike corral:

Essential Baking bike corral

And behold the bike tree!

Densmore bike tree

We continued a few uphill blocks out of the way to ride along the Neighborhood Greenway. The other streets up here are quiet enough, but I like to be a presence on the greenway. 13 kidmiles in the books.

Kidical Mass to Ballard Greenways Celebration

Yesterday I led a Kidical Mass ride to the new Ballard Greenway (along NW 58th St) and it was a blast! We had about 50 riders, many of whom were kids on their own bikes. Seattle Kidical Mass rides often only have kids as passengers/attached on trailer bikes, which I think is mostly a result of our busy streets and hilly terrain…though it could also be that bigger kids have more activities on weekends and choose soccer/baseball/Lego club over group bike rides. Oh, we also had two dogs along for the ride! One in a bakfiets (with bigger kids riding alongside) and one in a Snoozer Sporty Pet Bike Basket on a front rack with kids in rear seat and alongside solo.

Kidical Mass massing up at Ballard Library

When I saw just how many little riders we had along, I got a bit nervous about the length and elevation gain of our route (my kids and I test rode it Friday and they had quite a bit of trouble) so we shortened the route from 3 miles to 2, with a big stop at Ballard Corners Park.

Kidical Mass at Ballard Corners Park

And the smaller route meant we were back with almost an hour to play before the ribbon cutting! Riders big and small had fun getting Undriver Licenses, riding the Dutch Conference Bike from Dutch Bike Co, making smoothies with the Cascade Bicycle Club bike blender, dancing along the A-1 Piano street keyboards, and riding the bike rodeo–I wasn’t the only one quite taken by the teeter totter! It was amazing! (Not that I tried it personally.)

Dutch Conference Bike

Teeter totter in the bike rodeo

And come 3pm, the kids patiently lined up to listen to speeches and cheer the ribbon cutting with Jennifer Litowski of Ballard Greenways, Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and Mayor McGinn.

Awaiting the Ballard Greenway ribbon cutting

Here’s Cathy’s short video of ribbon cutting and zooming kids:

And many of us left with new big flags! Babette came equipped with bamboo stalks (the idea was to pull the leaves off, but we went for the natural look), attached to frames with two very tight zip ties and choice of colored streams for the top, held on with a bit of tape and a rubber band.

Bamboo bike flag

I’ve got additional pictures (with tons of the teeter totter!) on Flickr.

First Day of School legs

At the beginning of summer I complained about having to earn back my “summer legs”. I was out of practice carrying kids and their bikes and beach gear and a day’s worth of food. School started today so now I’m back to carrying just kids and little lunch boxes…but my slow strong legs now have to get used to the morning sprint between schools again!

I didn’t get a nice picture of us all on the bike, happily riding to school–because I didn’t have a moment to spare–but here’s my least favorite intersection at a red light with a women parked in the bike box.

Car in the Fremont bike box

The first leg is a two-mile rush to preschool for a 9am dropoff. We made it on time! Which meant we didn’t have to rush the handoff. I think we were out the door at 9:05 which left sufficient time to rush two miles back for 9:25 elementary school dropoff. Thank goodness our school start times stayed the same as last year because even five fewer minutes wouldn’t leave me enough time. Next year when they’re both at the big school life will be so much easier!

Here’s the bike rack after school started:

Elementary school bike rack

Looks like I need to get on my Bike to School Mom game. But I also saw lots of parents with trailer bikes and walking their bikes alongside kids.

Now that my bike was free of passengers, I loaded it up with preschool garage sale donations. You know you’re having a good cargo day when a friend says you look like a bag lady.

No kids, lots of cargo

At 1pm I swapped the garage sale goods for my four-year old and hit the grocery store:

One kid and groceries

We dumped the groceries and bike at home and for 3:30 elementary school pickup (first grade!) I rode my son’s 20-inch Danish Mosquito while the four-year old rode his 12-inch bike. I love that one of them is on a bike big enough for me to [sort of] fit on! It’s only two and a half blocks, by the way. And that’s my new J Bailey Brand hat from Hub and Bespoke.

Big person on little bike

At school I saw my friend’s Zigo Leader stroller bike for the first time. It looks pretty neat! I’m eager to hear how her uphill ride home went. There’s a similar product called Taga I have yet to see in person.

Sheri's Zigo

And finally the last leg: kids on bikes (on the sidewalk), me on foot.

Kids on bikes

Have a good school year, everyone!