Archive | April 2016

Bike Everywhere Breakfast

All over the city, people in love with bicycling got up early this morning to attend the annual Group Health Bike Everywhere Breakfast (formerly Bike to Work Breakfast). This is my fifth time attending, starting in 2012 when I didn’t have a choice ;) since we were in the video.

This year’s video was about the free group rides program and one of my Kidical Mass rides, filmed back in August, was part of it!

New for me this year was biking to the breakfast with friends. I was seated at Haley Keller’s table, member of the Cascade Bicycle Club board, co-owner of Peddler Brewing Co, and all-around awesome person. She orchestrated a 6:30 a.m. meeting in Ballard and then 6:40 a.m. meeting in Fremont for riding over in a group.

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And we took the new one-block 7th Avenue cycletrack. That was exciting! In Seattle we get excited about one-block infrastructure because we don’t have things that connect yet anyway ;)

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The breakfast was fun and I got to see a lot of friends and make some new ones, but unfortunately not see each and every person I had hoped to see.

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With Kidical Mass on my mind, I met up with my friend Brad and did a route test for Saturday’s Earth Day Kidical Mass. We usually each ride Surly Big Dummies with two kids, but for this ride, I was on my single speed cyclocross bike (a reasonable choice given the flat route and the gravel portion of the ride) and Brad was on his recumbent (a very unreasonable choice given it has the skinniest tires of all his bikes and he prefers to use it out of the city). Needless to say, it went great. We saw turtles in the Center for Urban Horticulture and decided to route the ride by the runnel (optional!) because I think the kids will like using it.

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After school, I took the kids and Pixie to fetch the tandem bike from R+E Cycles, now with kidback kiddie cranks back on. The mile-and-a-half walk over took forever. My big kid rode his bike, my little kid kicked a small basketball the whole way, and Pixie valiantly panted along in the 80-degree heat.

My little guy was uncharacteristically eager to help pedal and insisted on doing all the work on any uphill so I’m starting to really look forward to camping this weekend. He’s been talking more often about being in le Tour de France when he’s bigger so perhaps he means to start helping pedal regularly. My bigger kid asked when I would adjust the stoker seat for him to use so I should probably let him try at some point…it’s just that I can’t lower the seat of the Burley Piccolo trailer bike low enough for the little kid to use (due to the rear rack getting in the way) and possibly more so because he’s not as focused a stoker as his little brother.

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One more thing:

I didn’t just ride two different bikes today, I rode three different bikes today! A friend came over right after school so her daughter could test ride our two Islabikes. She’s outgrown her 16″ and we have a large 20″ and a 24″. Since the kids were biking up and down the block, I decided my friend and I should do the same and we took turns spinning the tiny cranks of Gran Furismo, my minibike (it’s covered in blue fur).

When people ask me how many bikes I own (as my friend did today), I usually deflect with a, “Freak bikes don’t count, right?” Because Gran Furismo is really just for fun, not an official member of my useful fleet.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 20 miles: 22.7
April cumulative miles: 334.2

Bike > bus

Our bus didn’t show to take us to the dental x-ray place today! I had a plan B worked out, but that involved transferring to a different second bus in case the first bus was more than five minutes late. I didn’t even consider biking because the place is next to Northgate Mall and after having biked to the mall once–on my light road bike–I deemed it too hilly to carry kids to. This means I didn’t bother checking that old post for my saved route ideas ahead of time so when I decided once it was clear our bus wasn’t coming, we speed walked two blocks home to grab helmets and bike and followed Google maps directions for this route that wasn’t too bad.

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I liked the section along 1st Ave NE between NE 85th St and NE 92nd St because it was flat, but also because it was lined with bike dot wayfinding markings. I love the old bike dots!

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It also had speed bumps that appeared to have been smushed flat with age.

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And on College Way N by North Seattle Community College I saw the new protected bike lane. This lane used to have the buffer against the curb–I assumed because it tended to fill with debris. This is much better, though I have a feeling it fills with parked cars for drop offs and pickups at certain times of day. Quite a few of the flexiposts were gone, most likely taken taken out by cars.

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In the southbound direction there were no flexiposts, but buffers on each side of the bike lane. I don’t think I’ve seen this in Seattle before. I like that it has sufficient space carved out to someday swap the bike lane and parking lane to make it safer.

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It was all uphill getting there which wasn’t pleasant, but meant it would be all downhill heading home. One of the many thoughts that went through my head during the 40-minute ride was that if it was too hilly to want to bike home with the kids, I could always leave my bike behind and bus the kids to school and then return to pedal the empty bike home.

One more thing:

Once I had the kids tucked away at school, I brought our tandem bike to R+E Cycles to get the kidback put back on, removed six weeks ago. If we can finish up Saturday’s Kidical Mass early enough, we’ll take the tandem camping.

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30 Days of Biking stats:
April 19 miles: 9.9
April cumulative miles: 311.5

G&O Family Cyclery reopened–and now with toy trains

I checked out the temporary (“summer location”) of G&O Family Cyclery today and it’s awesome! Find them one block north and on the other side of the street from their exploded location: 8554 1/2 Greenwood Ave, Seattle, WA. I had expected an empty room with bikes tucked in every corner, but it looks like a real bike shop! They found the space only two weeks ago and when I said the flooring looked great, Davey said they installed it themselves. And there are gorgeous, large black-and-white photos on the walls. And they’re planning to replace the light sconces. Because they can’t not do things like this, says Davey. There is already a little kid corner with toys and I added our toy trains and wooden train tracks since we no longer play with them. You may remember I brought our old train table to the shop during our very first in October of 2013.

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Having just returned from a week of spring break in Minneapolis (which I’ll recap tomorrow!), I realize even more just how important G&O Family Cyclery is to Seattle. Minneapolis was WONDERFUL for biking around. I saw quite a few cargo bikes/bike seats/trailers/trailer bikes, but nothing like here in Seattle. More like four years ago in Seattle–before we had a resource like G&O. Back then there were cargo bikes to be had, but having a family-specific shop like G&O has really caused an explosion (sorry, horribly choice of words!) in them. They really are everywhere! And there’s now a market of used cargo bikes as well. Not to imply that cargo bikes are the only way to carry kids, but they really are amazing machines and until our streets are safe enough for kids to ride from all point A’s to all point B’s, they’re one of the best ways for families who want to use biking as their main mode of transportation work, especially for one parent carrying multiple kids.

Today I made good use of my cargo bike by also carrying my dog and a large load of stuff to drop off at the thrift store. I have no way of weighing things, but it felt about the same weight as the kids so it was probably about 100 pounds of stuff. I was mistaken for a delivery biker twice which was pretty cool. First was at the bike rack at Mighty-O Donuts by an expectant mother. I explained that I usually use the bike to carry two kids and when she couldn’t tell due to the bike-laden nature of my rig, I pointed at the empty Xtracycle across the street to better explain what goes where…because cargo bikes really are everywhere in this town! Then the cashier at the thrift store asked if I was a messenger…after having admitted to honking the alligator horn on the back of my bike. “No, that’s a horn for my kid.” I explained and told him how I usually use the bike to carry kids, but they do make terrific delivery bikes.

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One more thing: A not-so-pleasant thing happened today that I feel a bit less grumpy about after having posting about it to my Instagram:

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“Hello, gorgeous!” 😡

Today was mostly a good day. I’m missing my friends in Minneapolis terribly already, but the kids and I had an great morning (hooray two-hour time zone difference making things easy when back on the west coast!) and after I saw them off to school I was excited to load up my bike with our old trains and tracks for delivery to G&O Family Cyclery, valiantly rebuilding from the wreckage of the Greenwood explosion.

A minute after I snapped this picture, not very successfully capturing the doughnuts in my front basket and Pixie in her backpack in the same frame, a guy biked by and shouted “Hello, gorgeous!” at me. I thought, “Do I know him and just not recognize him in that cycling kit? That was a joke, right? Not a good joke, but certainly just a joke, right?!” But he was a stranger and it wasn’t a joke.

To go from feeling powerful and important one moment to objectified and insignificant in the next…blech.

I didn’t cover dealing with street harassment in Urban Cycling because it’s not something I’ve experienced before. We all (yes all women) regularly face gendered street harassment on foot and I’ve always thought, “At least on a bike one can feel safer and get away more quickly” and our avoidance tactics that are pretty much second nature when walking just aren’t necessary when traveling at bike speed.

The first tweet I got about the book was a complaint that I didn’t cover this. I’m sorry. I just re-watched the WMBA’s “Cut the Catcalling” video to feel better. “Hello, gorgeous!” is nothing compared to things I’ve heard on foot and compared to the things I’m sure dozens of friends heard today, but like I said–it was a first on my bike. It took the wind out of my sails.

Call me strong. Call me impressive. Say, “Wow, I’ve never seen so many boxes on a bike before!”

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 18 miles: 9.8
April cumulative miles: 301.6

Upcoming: Earth Day Kidical Mass

Saturday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m.
Husky Grind at Mercer Court (3925 Adams Ln, Seattle, WA 98105)
Facebook RSVP

Let’s get out on our bikes and celebrate Mother Earth! Pack a picnic and meet us outside Husky Grind at Mercer Court–it’s along the Burke-Gilman Trail just east of the Wall of Death (go early if you want to grab food at Husky Grind). We’ll be riding 5.5 miles, through the Center for Urban Horticulture which is easy-to-ride hard-packed gravel, just to warn ya. We’ll stop for picnic lunch in Magnuson Park (exact location TBD, but I’m leaning towards the amphitheater by the community center). If the weather’s not so nice, we’ll eat quickly and head back, but if it’s nice, we’ll hang for a while and then head back via the more direct route of all Burke-Gilman Trail, no gravel.

p.s. If you’re around April 16, there’s an official Earth Day celebration in the Magnuson Park children’s garden.

About Kidical Mass

Seattle Kidical Mass rides are presented by Familybike Seattle. Familybike Seattle is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that decreases barriers to bicycling for families of all income levels. We believe that biking as a family increases our individual, family, and societal quality of life, while at the same time moving toward sustainable lifestyles and communities.

Kidical Mass is a fun, safe, easy-going, and law-abiding family bike ride for kids of all ages. It started circa 2008 in Eugene, Oregon, and has since spread to other bikey burgs, like Seattle! Our monthly group rides include a nice mix of experienced cyclists, and folks just getting started. We hope to educate bike-curious parents about ways to bicycle with children, help kids learn to ride safely in the city, and increase the visibility of family biking on Seattle streets. Kids are traffic too! All manner of bikes and high-occupancy velos are welcome.

Some Kidical Mass ride leaders are Cascade Bicycle Club volunteer ride leaders. Cascade Bicycle Club is the nation’s largest statewide bicycle organization and serves bike riders of all ages and abilities throughout the Puget Sound region and across Washington state. Cascade’s mission is to “improve lives through bicycling” through many programs including free group rides. For Kidical Mass rides led by Cascade ride leaders, all participants are required to sign a wavier and wear a helmet.

Weekly En Plein Air Coffee Club

One #coffeeoutside a week isn’t always enough for me, so I love when I can make it to En Plein Air Coffee Club (EPACC). This one is on Fridays at 8:00 a.m. and at different parks each week. There’s a mailing list signup at the bottom of the EPACC.org website to be alerted of the Friday site on Thursday.

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Today’s was close to home, along the Ship Canal Trail, at a nameless park our preschool often played at.

Here’s this week’s mailing since I don’t see it on the EPACC blog yet:

EPACC will meet along the Ship Canal Trail.

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Emperor Saga of the Heian Period held flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the blossoming boughs of sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Poems would be written praising the delicate flowers, which were seen as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral. —Wikipedia

The En Plein Air Coffee Club will meet for hanami Friday 8th April 2016 at 8am underneath the cherry trees along the Ship Canal Trail west of the Fremont Bridge. Here’s a map.

One more thing: I know of one other regular Seattle #coffeeoutside: Wednesdays at 7:00 a.m. at the Madrona Park picnic shelter. That one usually has a Tuesday reminder on jdgesus’ Instagram.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 8 miles: 10.2
April cumulative miles: 155.2

Weekly #coffeeoutsideforher

Every Thursday I host a coffee outside, called #coffeeoutsideforher, though it’s not only for women.

#coffeeoutsideforher
Thursdays 10:00 a.m.
Gas Works Park, viewpoint in the southeast edge of the park
Reminder on the familyride Instagram every Wednesday

It’s not necessary to bring anything–I always have plenty of coffee and mugs, though the usual gist of #coffeeoutside is that everyone brings their campstove and coffee kit to make their own coffee (and yield a cool photo of all the various coffee systems).

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I stayed until noon this time so it’s not necessary to show right at ten. The weather tends to dictate how long we hang out, but we’re always there at least an hour.

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One more thing: The kids and I are out of town for Spring Break next Thursday, but I think #coffeeoutsideforher will still happen without me. It’s happened once before without me and it seems to have been going long enough that it has a life of its own!

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 7 miles: 26.2
April cumulative miles: 145.0

Bike/bus to Issaquah

Once a month we turn a trip to the orthodontist into a big adventure by taking bikes. Our orthodontist is 20 miles away, in Issaquah (hometown of Modest Mouse if you’re not from here and think Issaquah sounds familiar) so we do a bike/bus combo trip. We usually take the Sound Transit 554 from downtown, but our appointment was later than normal and we were able to take the much closer-to-school/home Sound Transit 556 bus. It was our first time on this line and the route is completely different so that was exciting.

We take my Bianchi Milano city bike (“the old mamabike”) when we use the bus since my Big Dummy is too long and too heavy to go on the bike rack. It was easiest when it had two kid seats and we all fit on the bike, but now it just has a rear seat and one kid has to ride his own bike. Actually, today it had two rear seats because I brought it’s original rear seat, a Bobike Maxi, along to give to a friend. The new rear seat is the Bobike Junior, suitable for my now bigger kids.

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I didn’t strap the extra seat on very well at the beginning, but my six-year old helped by holding it on. The extra seat also meant I couldn’t drape my eight-year old’s bike over the seat(s) and ride the bikes two blocks to school and had to walk them side by side–such a pain! I’m not very good at ghost riding (riding one bike while dragging another with one hand).

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Issaquah is a great town. When the kids were littler, they loved the train-themed playground and adjacent train museum (they still like the playground, but don’t care so much that it’s train-themed). They also love Maurice, the barber in the Cut Loose Caboose next to our orthodontist, and happily get their hair cut there while Daisy, the Pomeranian, looks on from the cupola. There’s also a salmon hatchery and we can’t leave without lunching (or dinnering in this case) at the Issaquah Brewhouse (crayons and kid menus, Duplo table, board games including Battleship).

One more thing: My friend who now has the Bobike Maxi recently wrote an excellent blog post: If you’re not biking, you’re part of the problem.

30 Days of Biking stats:
April 6 miles: 18.1
April cumulative miles: 118.8