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Biking with kids in Venice Beach

After biking with kids in Santa Barbara for an hour one day at the beginning of spring break, we had a second bike adventure: two biking hours in Venice Beach.

The apartment at which we were staying came with two adult-sized beach cruisers so I was set for wheels and the closest of the many bike rental places–just four blocks along our street at the beach–had a couple kid bikes that should be available if we showed up near 10am opening. My seven-year old got a cool-looking 20″ cruiser bike and my nine-year old got a 24″ mountain bike–his first bike with a front derailleur, but I don’t think he did any shifting.

As I mentioned in my last post, there are lots of options for kids these days. Santa Monica Bike Center is particularly awesome with cargo bikes, kid-friendly tandems, trailers, trailer bikes, bike seats, and kid bikes. It might have been worth looking for an apartment within walking distance of SMBC, but I didn’t think of that when planning our visit. As wonderful as the place looks, it wasn’t worth driving there from two miles away. So we walked to the close place, got the two bikes and were rolling right away. We started by riding one mile south to Muscle Beach. It was a little early in the day for weight lifters so the kids didn’t get to see it in all its glory. But I thought Muscle Beach Surf Shop was pretty cool: they have orange–and only orange–rental bikes! Kid bikes of all sizes, regular bikes, fat bikes, an orange trailer, and an orange Burley Piccolo trailer bike. It looked like all the rental places’ trailer bikes were Burley Piccolos and Kazoos. We use a Burley Piccolo at home and love it. The Piccolo (has gears) and Kazoo (no gears) mount to a rear rack for an incredibly stable ride. We had one of the seat-post-attaching trailer bikes before and I simply wasn’t strong enough to bike with it comfortably. I notice lots of kids on those tilted to the side, though I also know people who love theirs.

After Muscle Beach we biked nearly three miles in the other direction to the Santa Monica Pier. It was a long haul for the kids on unfamiliar bikes, but we made it. And after eating and resting, my younger and unhappier camper was back to normal!

So we rode back to the rental place, ditched the bikes and headed for the beach. That’s what I mostly used my own bike for all week: as a hand truck to ferry stuff to water’s edge.

I did a tiny bit of biking for the sake of 30 Days of Biking and the day after our rental adventure we brought boogie boards to the beach and I discovered how convenient it is to have a single speed and coaster (foot) brake: my hands had no tasks other than pinning stuff to the handlebars so I could steer. I could have carried way more stuff.

All week in Venice we saw so many families on so many bikes! I assume most of them were visiting town and only riding back and forth along the bike trail, just like us. I wished I could tell them all that they could have this fun experience back home, too. I hope some of them will. After all, that’s how many full-time family bikers I know got started: visits to bikey places (for instance: Copenhagen by Hum of the City and visiting my family in the Netherlands in mine) and wanting to replicate the joy and freedom of getting around by bike once back at home. Thank goodness one doesn’t have to cross an ocean to catch the family biking bug anymore!

Despite our two days of using bikes over spring break and my teensy bit of biking the other days, we did a lot of driving. Back in 2010 I read Los Angeles on $100 a Day by New York Times Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel and discovered one can avoid driving while visiting LA! Now I know people who live without cars there, but this was my first exposure to anything like that. I would love to do that someday. I went down once without the kids with a rental Brompton folding bike and didn’t need to rent a car, but I was chauffeured around by my family so that was hardly a car-free visit. At least our staying within walking distance of the beach and restaurants of Venice Beach meant we were able to do half our stuff without the car, which is better than some visits where we’ve had to drive for each and every thing. Last time we stayed in a hotel walking distance to the La Brea Tar Pits and The Grove so again we were able to do some walking, but still had to drive a lot. I think if I ever want to make this work, I’d need to find a bus stop near my brother’s house and examine where I could get easily from there to choose where we’d stay. Then I’d need to choose all the various places we could get from our hotel or apartment and set up an itinerary for the week and hope our family and friends were game to meet up with us in convenient places. But this would be just biking and bus- or rail riding, no bikes. But I’m eager to look into it next time we visit.

Biking with kids in Santa Barbara

We’ve entered new territory: the kids are big enough for their own rental bikes! Also, kid bikes are more readily available at rental places these days. So are bike seats, trailers, and trailer bikes for kids who don’t have the stamina or skills to ride on their own. And to a lesser degree, cargo bikes. We were on spring break last week and flew to LA to visit family with a day trip up to Santa Barbara for passover with family friends.

Last time we biked in Santa Barbara (six years ago) we rented one of several cargo bikes at WheelHouse (RIP) and I probably would have done that again to keep things simple (carrying kids is simpler than leading kids for me…especially if it’s flatter than home).

I wouldn’t have thought about biking at all for this visit had we not been in the midst of 30 Days of Biking and I’m so glad I did because it was great! I found Wheel Fun Rentals online ahead of time and hoped the kid bikes mentioned on the website were small enough for my kids, but as a backup I knew we could rent a surrey (those four-wheeled four- or six-seaters with canopy). The surrey wouldn’t have been as fun because it can only go on the Cabrillo bike path along the beach and I was really excited about the self-guided bike tour.

Wheel Fun Rentals Santa Barbara bike tour–PDF version here.

I grew up in Santa Barbara and know the terrain so I knew the kids wouldn’t want to ride all the way to the Mission (nor would I!) but biking to Alameda Park (to which we had plans to drive after our bike adventure because Kids World Castle Playground is the best!) and then over to the fig tree sounded perfect.

Note: the self-guided-tour map wasn’t available in print at Wheel Fun Rentals, but it’s totally worth doing so print one out before you go. There were more bike options than shown on the website–like trailer bikes! I bet I could have rented a tandem bike with trailer bike and even if my stoker couldn’t reach the pedals, we would have all been on a communal heavy bike like we’re used to.

As a kid in Santa Barbara I just biked on sidewalks near my house and as a college student I biked all over the place, though I avoided State Street because it wasn’t good for biking back then. I often wonder if my experience biking with kids in Seattle would be different had I lived here before becoming a parent. I can imagine as a [relatively] speedy bike commuter I might be scared to add kids to that mix, but only having started slowly doing small rides with a baby wasn’t intimidating. Not that this experience in Santa Barbara answers that question for me, but it was cool to lead my babies on streets familiar yet better than remembered.

I would have preferred staying in a bunch the entire time, but I knew my seven-year old would want to ride ahead for the downhill/uphill under the 101 while my nine-year old lagged behind. I stayed right in the middle, slightly nervous. Fun fact: in the old days there were stop lights to cross the 101. And I see the latest State Street improvements happened just a few years ago.

State Street is still busy, but traffic (one lane in each direction, scattered parking, left- and right- turn lanes at intersections) moves slowly and there are tons of tourists on beach cruisers in the bike lanes. The bike lanes are ridiculously narrow when sandwiched between straight-going and right-turning car lanes, but for kids (and adults) who are decent at riding in a straight line, it’s OK.

Before returning the bikes within an hour ($25.85 total for our three bikes), we headed a few blocks out of the way to the fig tree. I love how being on bikes makes it incredibly easy to add in little trips! When I was a kid one could climb on the trunks, but it’s protected by a fence now.

I made one interesting observation when we skirted around a car idling slightly in the bike lane/mostly in the right-turn lane near Paseo Nuevo. There’s no Uber (private taxi service) here! [Actually a quick Google search shows that there is Uber in Santa Barbara, but the Yelp reviews reveal it’s so poorly regarded that no on uses it.] It was so pleasant biking in such a bustling area and not facing the obstacle course of idling and mid-block-U-turning Ubers prevalent in Seattle.

Ride Recap: Kidical Mass April Fools’ Day Ride

We had the best Kidical Mass April Fools’ Day Ride today, no foolin’! I haven’t started a ride at noon for quite a while, but it seemed to work well for a lot of families and we had a great turnout–39 at the start and 10 more joining us later. See my 40 photos here.

However, I didn’t plan well food-wise starting later than normal. I assumed first breakfast and second breakfast would be sufficient and didn’t pack any snacks since we’d have brownies at the start, doughnuts in the middle, and lunch at the end, but my younger threatened to die of hunger a few blocks after we left home. So we stopped at Solsticio, 1.4 miles from home, just in the nick of time! From there it was just another .7 miles to get to our start point.

We met up at Fremont Canal Park, by the dinosaur topiaries. I passed out homemade brown Es (get, brownies? We had real brownies, too, lest anyone be disappointed) and packets of doughnut seeds for the kids to plant around the dinosaurs. The idea was that we were planting next year’s doughnut harvest and we’d be rewarded with some of last year’s harvest upon arrival at Mighty-O Donuts in Ballard.

Multi-use trail, proposed greenway, greenways!
Our ride was really great! We started out on the Burke-Gilman Trail and turned off at Hale’s Ales to get to NW 6th Avenue. The U-turny right turn onto 43rd from the Burke-Gilman Trail is a little tricky, so I think next time we’ll leave the trail one opportunity earlier, at 7th Ave NW and turn right on 43rd with a regular 90-degree angle.

I love the newish beg button for bikes to cross Leary Way here–it makes such a difference for biking into Ballard (photo below from using it in the other direction on our way back home).

We rode 15 blocks north on 6th Avenue NW, which is a proposed Seattle Neighborhood Greenway. It doesn’t have all the traffic calming of a built-out neighborhood greenway, but it’s a great street to use to avoid the Missing Link, which features very busy streets and lots of rail road tracks and isn’t a good place for a group of kids (or anyone!). It’s flat so most people ride through it anyway, but our pack all fared just fine on the slight uphill of 6th Avenue NW. It’s also covered with blossoms this time of year.

And from there we turned west on the NW 58th Street greenway. I love riding along Ballard’s first greenway with kids. It’s flat and calm. And it intersects Ballard’s second greenway! Here in Seattle we don’t have any other nice bikeways that connect (except for the 39th Avenue NE greenway and the Burke-Gilman Trail, I guess) so intersecting greenways is huge!

Stopping at Mighty-O worked very well. Everyone started in the Friends of Mighty-O Parklet boat while I ran inside to pick up the three dozen mini doughnuts I’d ordered online ahead of time. Then some families migrated inside for coffee and full-sized doughnuts and some stayed in the boat.

We backtracked a bit, going out of the way for the sake of controlled street crossing: 17th Avenue NW greenway to NW 58th Street greenway. We mixed things up by heading south on 14th Avenue NW which is a pretty big street, but with an island in the middle and it’s worth taking in the downhill direction since we can go at a reasonable speed. And it has a light for crossing Market. We biked five blocks of 14th before turning off at 53rd which crosses through Gilman Playground. Parallel streets are just as quiet, but cutting through a playground is always worth it. Then four blocks down quiet 9th and we were at Populuxe Brewing!

There was tons of room to bring our bikes into the patio, lots of outdoor seating and a huge annex (which I hear begins a remodel next week) with pinball and video games as well as a big-screen TV and lots of seating. On such a nice day (the sun was out for some of the time!) it was wonderful to be outside, though.

The food at Peasant Food Manifesto looked amazing (and others confirmed it was indeed so), but my littles weren’t adventurous enough for it so I headed down a few blocks to Giddy Up Burgers & Greens for kid burgers and fries. I hadn’t been there before and it looks great for kids: huge coloring sheets, lots of crayons, and little toy trucks!

Balleywood Creamery was at the brewery, too, and it was SO GOOD. There was a sorbet (peach this time) for my dairy-sensitive kid and I chose the not-too-hoppy caramel hop one. YUM!

We look forward to more sunny rides as the seasons change (finally!)

My Cargo Bike is a Glorified Bike Rack

My kids are nine (almost 10!) and seven and prefer to ride their own bikes most of the time these days. They weight about 65 and 55 pounds so they’re still totable, but I’ll admit I’m happy not to be toting them. However, I still always bring my Big Dummy just in case. It’s great having a bike that can carry both kids and their bikes. A year ago they were often tired and requested rides and I was quick to oblige because I’d hate to have them get grumpy about biking for transportation. And it seems to have paid off! They’re still happy to bike everywhere and only turn into passengers in case of injury. My nine-year old usually walks up the last uphill block home from the trail and is happy to push his bike…but I’d feel obligated to carry him up if he ever thought to ask. The last hill is always the worst hill, right?

Yesterday we rode 11 miles after school to go to chiropractor…and to happy hour sushi afterwards because it always helps to add a tasty incentive to an all-uphill trip. As we we were biking there I thought about how my poor bike is just a glorified bike rack these days. Here it is at the chiropractor:

But! Bike parking is very important. Three bikes is a lot to park even with a bike rack, but there’s no rack near the chiropractor so my 80-pound cargo bike with super sturdy Rolling Jackass centerstand isn’t going to tip over or get carried away so it’s a great bike rack.

And today I was lucky (?) and my bike got a job after all! As I was thinking about the whole bike-as-bike-rack thing, my seven-year old crashed. It was a pretty exciting crash–he was riding ahead of me up the 39th Ave NE greenway because speed humps are for bunny hopping at high speed. We caught up to the recycling truck and as I hollered, “Slow down! The truck is going to stop suddenly!” the truck stopped suddenly and my little guy slammed on his brakes and skidded out on the damp road. He didn’t come close to hitting the back of the truck, but he was flat on the ground and done riding for the moment. I knew this because he marched over to my bike and climbed onto the deck as I assured the recycling truck driver that he was fine and no, there was no need to call 911. So I got to carry him the last mile and a half uphill to the chiropractor.

We still ride our tandem + trailer bike sometimes, but at the moment it seems to be more of a bike camping rig than an around town rig. The last time we took it out was for a less-than-one-mile trip to the grocery store, but on that day the nine-year old wanted to ride his own bike while the seven-year old wanted to ride the tandem with me so of course that all went horribly wrong and we’ll never take mismatched bikes again. I think we’d probably ride it a lot more if I didn’t need to carry it (it’s 57 pounds) up the flight of basement stairs to get it outside.

But back to today’s trip, I want to mention that it worked so well on separate bikes thanks to some great bike infrastruture. We live two blocks from the Burke-Gilman Trail–though we can’t head directly to the trail due to two busy street crossings and a too-steep (downhill) block. So we ride one block in a bike lane, jog a block on the sidewalk to the left to get to a crossing with stop signs (though one of two lanes in one direction doesn’t have a stop sign so I’d never let the kids cross there alone :/ ), and then one last block to the trail–but also on the sidewalk again because it’s too steep (downhill again) for the kids to be in the street lest they lose control. And then we wait (10 cars this time) for someone to stop and let us cross to the trail.

After three miles of trail we turn onto the 39th Avenue NE neighborhood greenway. That’s a lovely two-mile ride with a couple busy streets to cross, but totally safe for the kids to ride ahead of me between intersections. My seven-year old is starting to ride ahead through smaller intersections with my encouragement, but he tends to prefer to wait for me…or in some cases ride over the bike counter sensors seven times while he waits for me to catch up.

We have to ride six blocks of sidewalk at the end which is a bit of a bummer after having so much great street and multi-use trail riding beforehand, but it’s pretty amazing that we can get all the way to Wedgwood on separate bikes! This particular sidewalk has lot of narrow spots and driveways obstructed by fences and hedges so we are very slow and cautious. We’re all well aware that the sidewalk can be more dangerous to bike on that the street.

Heading home we stopped for happy hour at Blue C Sushi in U-Village. Parking lots are awfully dangerous to bike in, too, but we come here periodically so the kids are good at sticking near me and listening to me chatter about cars backing out of parking spots. My time-lapse video makes it look much scarier than it is.

U-Village got rid of my favorite bike rack near the tiny play ground, but it has lots of staples all around. And we even ran into friends!

Heading out of the shopping center on the west side has us on the sidewalk for one busy-street block and then for one quiet block because it’s too steep for us to be in the street. But then we’re back on the Burke-Gilman Trail! Perhaps someday they’ll add better bike routes into and out of the shopping center on both sides. It’s great having a place like this a tad less than two miles from home. We usually only visit for sushi, but today we also popped into the Amazon Books physical store to look at my book–woo hoo! And buy a copy of Lost Seattle (in English) since the kids are enjoying the Spanish translation at school.

U-Village also has ice cream, cupcakes, several Starbuckses, groceries, clothing stores, events, etc etc.

Westbound on the Burke-Gilman Trail is better than eastbound because the kids can ride the “velodrome” through UW–the little banked curb between the bike and ped sections. The Burke-Gilman Trail is mostly multi-use with just one big section, but these divided areas are nice.

Heading home from the Burke-Gilman Trail is a bit of an adventure. It’s a shame we live two blocks (as the crow flies, not as the bike bikes) from such a gem, yet we have to deal with uncontrolled intersections and/or sidewalk riding to get to and from it. It’s too steep to return home the way we came so we leave the trail at “the crazy intersection of NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/7th Ave NE/Burke-Gilman Trail (oh, Seattle, your street grid can be so silly)” in the crosswalks and it’s a bit scary. Then we ride a few blocks of the sidewalk of 40th because it’s too busy for the kids to be in the street and stay on the sidewalk of 4th as we bike by school. That’s both because there’s no curb cut to get to the street, but also because we get spread out on such a steep street. My seven-year old either waits on the sidewalk at the top of the hill or carefully rides the rest of the way home on the sidewalk. I wouldn’t mind him in the street, but he prefers the sidewalk when he’s ahead of me here. Then I wait for my nine-year old to walk up behind me and the two of us ride home in the street.

Kidical Mass April Fools’ Day Ride

Saturday, April 1, 2017
Noon
Fremont Dinosaur Topiary
(N Northlake Way & Burke-Gilman Trail & N Canal St, Seattle, WA 98103)
Facebook event
3.8-mile route
(route on Ride with GPS)

Remember the Google self-driving bike last year? That was cool!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t real (yet), but what I’m going to tell you next totally is:

We’ve partnered with Mighty-o donuts to sow their next crop of doughnuts. This season they’ll be planting along the ship canal where conditions are perfect for spring-time doughnut farming.

We’ll meet at the Fremont Dinosaur Topiary for seed sowing and hanging out for a bit before we head to the Ballard Mighty-o donuts for ripe doughnuts (from last season’s crop that grew in Discovery Park). One mini doughnut provided for each participant courtesy of the SKMAA (Seattle Kidical Mass Agritourism Association), but feel free to buy your own full-sized goodies…and if you have a Bicycle Benefits sticker on your helmet (available at Mighty-o if you don’t have one yet and want one) it’s buy one doughnut get one free!

Don’t be disappointed that nothing silly will have happened yet considering it’s April Fools’ Day–Mighty-o Ballard recently launched the Friends of Mighty-O Parklet boat. What’s sillier than a boat parked on the street? We’ll all crowd into the little boat for a group photo before feasting on doughnuts. Time to brush up on your pirate jokes (here’s our recent fave: “What has four eyes, four hands, and four legs?” “Four pirates.”)

After Mighty-o we’ll head over to spacious and kid-friendly Populuxe Brewing. The food truck is Peasant Food Manifesto and starts at 3pm. That’s a little too exciting for my own kids, so I might pop down a few blocks to Giddy Up Burgers & Greens.

30 Days of Biking
No joke here, 30 Days of Biking kicks off April 1st and it’s a wonderful event!

30 Days of Biking is a pledge to ride your bike every day in April and share your adventures online: #30daysofbiking.

There’s no minimum distance–down the block and around your basement count just like a 20-mile commute or a 350-mile charity ride. If you miss a day, no worries–just keep riding and don’t give up! It’s all for giggles, or as serious as you want it to be. What matters is that we’re all in this together.

Pledge to ride here and kick off the month in style!

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 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.

Kidical Mass video shoot 2.0 to G&O Family Cyclery 2.0

Update: Date is now TBD, but it’ll be soon and it’ll be on a Sunday. More soon!

Did you hear? G&O Family Cyclery’s new, permanent shop is open! It’s easy to find as it’s just two doors north of the temporary, post-Greenwood-explosion location (which was just across the street and a block north of the original location) and Kidical Mass is going to partake in a pedaling parade to party with our pals. We’ll start at the park in Green Lake and ride to the shop in Greenwood:

Date TBD
10:00 a.m.
Green Lake Community Center
(7201 E Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115)
Facebook event page

Details:
10:00 a.m. Gather at the Green Lake Shade Plaza (arch east of the community center)
10:30 a.m. Off we go!
11:30 a.m./noon-ish Arrive to G&O Family Cyclery 8558 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Our 3.6-mile route will have a great mix of bikeways: over a mile of Green Lake Trail, a teensy bit of sidewalk to get uphill through the tunnel under Aurora, bike lanes, regular quiet streets, and neighborhood greenway quiet street. All bikes welcome! But the mile up Fremont Avenue is a slightly uphill slog so be warned and we’ll take rest breaks as needed.

Also, this is take two of the G&O commercial video shoot so there will be a video release form to sign in addition to the regular ride waiver.

Once at G&O Family Cyclery, we’ll take some time to congratulate our friends and check out the shop, and then head a few doors down to kid-friendly Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery/Munch Cafe for those who want lunch.

For those who want to ride back with the group, we’ll coordinate timing on that and roughly follow the same route back (but note, Green Lake Trail is counterclockwise only).

G&O Family Cyclery Greenwood Blast Anniversary Party
Hey! Big fun event at G&O nine days before our ride:

March 9, 7pm until around 10pm.
Reduced Price Vegan Hot Dogs from Cycle Dogs!
Other Snacks!
Music!
Celebration!

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 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.

Biking to Walk the Battery

We had several little tastes of sort-of open street events today and it was great! Per the Open Streets Project: “Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing.” Here in Seattle we have Summer Parkways and if you can, get to Portland for one of their amazing Sunday Parkways. Or, of course, hit the original and bestest open street: Ciclovía in Bogotá. Anyhow, today was nothing like any of those, but getting a little dose of closed-to-cars streets is always a treat.

We had a nice 5.5-mile ride to the south end of the Battery Street Tunnel, but you’ll notice a jog as we encountered the Fremont Sunday Market (I always forget about avoiding that block on Sundays!) for our first open-but-not-open-to-pedaled-bikes street event. I really like the new flexipost-protected bike lanes between the Burke-Gilman Trail and Fremont Bridge, but they’re closed for the market on Sundays.

But before that we had a nice bit of Burke-Gilman Trail, and after that Ship Canal Trail and Westlake Bikeway–all wonderful spots for kids riding their own bikes. My two kids were on their own bikes and my friend Amy was on her Xtracycle EdgeRunner, carrying her kid and towing his single-speed bike, hoping to let him ride a bit on the way back.

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We took Dexter between the end of the Westlake Bikway and Bell Street Park (or as I like to call it, Bell Street Park for Cars, because no one heeds the arrow signs and turns off after a block). I don’t like taking Dexter Avenue on weekdays because the the paint-buffered bike lanes make them the perfect width for idling Uber private taxis. Weekends are better, though there are still several construction spots where the bike lane disappears. HOWEVER, today was the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k (“Not a Race, It’s an Experience‎”) so most of the blocks of Dexter we biked were closed to cars! It was glorious. Plus we were going against jogger traffic so we could smile at the racers.

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We weren’t allowed to bring our bikes to the event we were attending, but walking Walk the Battery was still awesome! It was put on by Aaron Asis & Project Belltown, details here:

Walk the Battery is part of the b’End Tunnel public art initiative intended to celebrate the Battery Street Tunnel, in its final years of service. This event, entitled Walk the Battery, will temporarily allow the general public to share a one-of-a-kind walking experience through this ‘auto-only’ public passage–at the threshold of a new downtown waterfront.

“Walk the Battery is opportunity for the public to physically access a unique piece of Seattle’s infrastructural history – past, present and future. We hope this walking event inspires new conversation about the history, legacy and fate of the Battery Street Tunnel”

I couldn’t tell from emailed communications how the walk would work–I was worried we’d walk through the tunnel one way and then have to circle back on sidewalks of busy streets, not ending up near where we parked the bikes. But I was wrong and we just walked back and forth through the tunnel and it was short enough and exciting enough that the kids didn’t complain of tired legs once. (We don’t do a lot of walking and my seven-year old barely made it the first mile when we did part of the Womxn’s March on Seattle.)

The out-and-back meant we ran into all our friends and the kids had double the chances to find treasures. The best score was a Thai coin dug out of some hard-packed junk at the north end of the tunnel. There are also several sharp metal bits and pieces lovingly stowed in my bike’s cargo bags, but I was allowed to throw away the squished and very dirty lipstick tube that was presented to me as my special treasure.

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I hope other kids (and adults) had as much fun, yet also managed to stay cleaner. My guys rubbed against the sides of the tunnel and given that it’s normally home to car traffic, it’s dirty.

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Heading home we had a couple car-free blocks of Bell Street. This was particularly great because Bell Street is one way and there isn’t a comparable street in our towards-home direction. I have high hopes the One City Center plan will fix that someday, but today we took the Bell Street sidewalks to Dexter.

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The Hot Chocolate 15k/5k street closure was over and the north-bound Dexter bike lane is riddled with big road seams and a long closure so we did a bit of side street zig zagging (route home here). We found some cool streets this way, but they were pretty potholey and my seven-year old wiped out in one of them. Thank goodness for cargo bikes! I collected him and his bike onto my Surly Big Dummy and carried him until he felt up to riding again–close to home before the big hill, phew.

p.s. it was very cold today and I can’t wait for winter to be over! The kids were all troupers, but we all experienced frozen extremities. Thankfully there was barely any drizzle and the wind (one of the Bell Street street-closure barriers blew into an SUV in the middle of an intersection!) didn’t last long–or at least was only down in Belltown.