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Happy Seventh Birthday, Big Dummy!

It’s that time again! My Big Dummy turned seven today so here’s a quick recap of what I can remember about our adventures over the past year…

The kids mostly ride their own bikes, but I still take my Surly Big Dummy longtail cargo bike just about all the time. Every so often I get to carry a kid and his bike, though fortunately never both kids at the same time. Here’s my 11-year old from Friday who got a little too wet, cold, and tired on the way home from middle school:

I’ve also delved into towing a little bit. On the way to the pumpkin farm this October I towed each kid on his bike one at a time:

and one time I towed my nine-year old around on his longboard:

And I’m using the bike for work for the first time ever! I used it to fetch and charge e-scooters during the pilot project. I hope they’ll come back and I can do more.

It’s always exciting when my bike gets conveyed far afield and the trip to the Columbia River Gorge on the Cordilleran Tours van was something else!

I also found some cool, big stuff on the side of the road (#groundscore!) like these two bookcases:

And in more normal carrying, toting my single-speed bike, folding bike, and skateboard to the Ladd’s 500 and then riding a lot of my laps (many of which were with photographers or podcaster on the back) with my Big Dummy was a wonderful usage of the bike.

I always like to do a “day in the life” recap of the Big Dummy’s birthday so here’s our day:

Today started out a little slow because my nine-year old woke up with a little cough so I didn’t do the usual two-mile round trip ride to escort him to school at 8:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. I loaded up Pixie into the basket and biked eight miles round trip to escort my 11-year old to school.

Lindsey Bikes! is visiting so we set out to meet up with Kath of Portlandize for fabric store, visit to Clever Cycles, lunch at Lardo, pet food store (where I bought a 10-pound bag of dog food, yay cargo to carry!), Books with Pictures, retrieved my 11-year old from school, and surprise flat tire on Lindsey’s bike and short walk to A Better Cycle to get it fixed.

Then I traded friends for Pixie and headed north to record an episode of the Sprocket Podcast–my sixth time, Pixie’s first time. That’ll post to their site in a few days. Obvs, I spoke about the bike’s birthday a bunch.

All told it was a 36-mile day, but it’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles and there were countless ones of those!

Read previous birthday posts:

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My week of curating @eastpdx

Portland is comprised of five quadrants: Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast, and also North. While not a proper quadrant, East Portland also has its own identity, made up of anything east of 50th. Or anything east of 82nd, depending on who you ask. Needless to say, I find Portland’s boundaries a little confusing, but I consider myself a East Portlander who lives in the Southeast quadrant. We leave East Portland for a lot of stuff (like our neighborhood middle school), but many of our favorite places are out this way. Since we don’t live desirably “close in,” I feel pretty in tune with East Portland, far from the fanciest bike infrastructure and fancier non-bike stuff.

The eastpdx project has intrigued me since I first discovered it–it’s a Twitter account run by a different East Portlander each week who can tweet about whatever they want. The account has featured important people, like Jo Ann Hardesty then candidate/now electee for Portland City Council, but also some regular people which prompted me to apply to be a curator.

I thought it’d be fun to showcase family biking in East Portland for a week. I planned to use it as an excuse to bike to all our favorite places in East Portland and snap a bunch of photos as well as show off some of the better bike infrastructure closer in to show what we’re missing out this way. Curators can tweet as little or as much as they want and I had hoped to tweet a lot and bike a lot, but it turned out to be a lot more work than I realized! In retrospect I should have planned more in advance. I made notes of places I wanted to go ahead of time, but I should have also made notes on general things I wanted to tweet about–and I should have composed all those general-thing tweets ahead of time for convenient cutting and pasting. I’m not much of a retweeter to begin with, but this is the perfect sort of account to retweet all the articles I see and read via twitter each day. Also my kids were both sick here and there during the week so that put a damper on things and kept us from doing much of anything.

Perhaps I’ll become a bit better of a tweeter on my @familyride account now, but in the meantime I wholeheartedly appreciate the effort put forth by those with more robust accounts!

Below is my week of @eastpdx tweets for posterity:

@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I’m excited to pedal my way into the week of tweeting about East Portland (and a little bit beyond). I’d love to hear from you if you also bike in the area!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I love biking by Little Free Libraries! This cute @LtlFreeLibrary is right by Glenwood City Park. Sorry in advance if I pepper my week of tweets with funny idioms 😜


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Do you enjoy street paintings/murals, too? Colorful and traffic calming! This one is in front of Kelly Elementary. Here’s more about it from @CityRepair : Kelly Elementary Community Painting


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Adding to my list of things easy to notice, appreciate, and pause at by bike: bike-themed yard art. This garden penny farthing on SE Knight always catches my eye.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I’m familiar with the war memorials in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, but Veterans Day got me curious about any East Portland memorials. I discovered the Oregon Korean Veteran’s Memorial in Willamette National Cemetery.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
How are you faring in the wind? At home I thought this was an odd all-directions wind, but after biking east to the cemetery I can verify this is the typical Portland east wind.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Portland has two winds: the dry east wind and the wet west wind. I have yet to decide if I dislike biking in wind or biking in rain more.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
I should point out that my bike is BIG and weighs 75 pounds so I don’t really have to worry about getting buffeted by side gusts, making wind more of an annoyance than a safety hazard for me.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
p.s. my bike is called a “longtail cargo bike” and designed to carry big loads, like up to 3 kids or furniture. It’s foot longer than a regular bike and very sturdy.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
Currently reading (and enacting) our newly borrowed book on the bus. 30 idioms weren’t enough for the whole ride from downtown to Woodstock, but it helped make the trip fun!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 12
We mostly bike everywhere, but for things too far or too late (about once a month) we use transit—like coming home from the train station tonight.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Do you know that saying, “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.” My nine-year old doesn’t subscribe to it, but at 38-feels-like-35 degrees I’m all bundled up and comfortable.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
At 40-feels-like-38 degrees my 11-year old is dressed for the weather. Granted he bikes 4 miles/30 minutes to middle school while his little brother only bikes 1 mile/6 minutes to elementary school.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
His chin was still cold so tomorrow he’ll wear his balaclava, too.
PRO TIP: call balaclavas “ninja masks” to encourage resistant cold kids to happily wear them.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I mentioned we only ride transit once a month, but I love that we have easy access to the bus. Have you read former EastPDX curator @joann4portland‘s “One Portland, One Planet” page? I love her views on public transportation. https://joannforportland.com/climatejustice/


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
This @BikePortland story “Portland’s new commissioner-elect sees a carfree future with fareless and fast transit” about @joann4portland covers transit, bikes, walking, rideshare tax, and @pdxvisionzero. I have high hopes for the future!
Portland’s new commissioner-elect sees a carfree future with fareless and fast transit


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
My 4th grader missed lunch while at the dentist so I took him to his favorite, Primal Burger, before bringing him back.

I love dining with a view of our parked bikes.

Here’s an article by Portlander @ellyblue about the importance of bike parking: The Best Way to Promote City Riding? Bike Racks


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I’m lucky my bike is so heavy (75 pounds, a regular bike is probably 30 pounds) so if there’s no bike rack I can “wheel lock” (lock frame to wheel so it can’t be rolled away) and rest assured it probably won’t get carried away. Not that I do this often bc better safe than sorry!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
I hope never to give the impression you HAVE to have a special bike for family biking. The bike you already have is always the best bike! However, I sure love my bike—a longtail cargo bike can carry kids and their bikes at the same time (ate too much at lunch).


You Retweeted

Chris Smith
@chrissmithus · Nov 13
Madi, I hope you’ll draw attention to the new bike parking zoning code making its way to the Planning and Sustainability Commission in January: https://t.co/dTpsIrkQmJ More and better bike parking for new development (including larger spaces for bikes like yours)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Have you noticed the numerous street signs rotated 90 degrees?! It makes wayfinding difficult…I usually encounter them only when I really want to know where I am!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 13
Do you know about bike-specific signal detectors? Put your front wheel on the bike-on-a-stick to trigger a green light. Useful if you don’t travel with a kid who likes to go push the button a gazillion times *bee-boop* *bee-boop* *bee-boop*


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
🎁 Heat packs, gloves, ponchos, socks! 🎁
This isn’t my favorite way to shop, but wish lists are great for involving kids—mine just perused the list and decided what to add to our cart to send to Street Roots.

You Retweeted

Silicon Florist
@siliconflorist · Nov 14
Did you know that our friends at @StreetRoots have an @amazonwishlist for things their vendors need? It’s a simple and straightforward way to support some of the most incredible entrepreneurs in our community Supporting our entire entrepreneurial community: Street Roots has an Amazon Wishlist


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
The four-mile bike ride to our neighborhood middle school is kinda far so thank goodness for the school bus when we can’t ride. We’ve only had to use it twice so far this year–once when I was sick and today with my littler kid home sick.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Did you read or hear about the woman injured by the tripwire on the I-205 path? I first read about it on http://BikePortland.org and was saddened by some of the comments. Here’s a just-published compassionate guest opinion.

You Retweeted

BikePortland
@BikePortland · Nov 14


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
I ride the I-205 path with my kids, not daily but regularly. We don’t find the path scary and it fuels good discussions on houselessness in Portland.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
From a comment on that opinion piece by a BikePortland reader named Nathan. Something I’ve definitely noticed, but never put into words before. We who bike for transportation come into contact with houseless neighbors more than those in cars.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
My bike often serves as a conversation starter so I find it easier than some to talk with houseless neighbors.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
The thing I don’t like about the I-205 path is that since it’s one of the few places people feel safe to live I’m sort of pushing my way through _their_ safe space, not the other way around.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
When possible I avoid the path at night, not because I’ve felt unsafe, but because I worry about the few spots were people don’t have space to put their tents and stuff next to the path and are vulnerable upon part of the path.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
HOWEVER, I do have one bad story about the I-205 path:
I’m not out at night much, but was a couple weeks ago. I spent some time figuring out a route that avoided the path. Heading home two guys in a car shadowed me for a couple blocks as I crossed a bridge over I-205…


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Naturally the path seemed safer so I left the street as soon as possible…and rode through a huge patch of broken glass that seemed intentionally placed. I didn’t place blame at the time, but now I wonder if it wasn’t the 3 men who set the tripwire. It was in the same exact spot


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
Rather than have my sixth grader take the school bus home I toted his bike, his sick little brother, and his dog to get him at the end of the day. Yay cargo bikes!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 14
I love admiring murals from the saddle of my bike. We pedal past this “Twinkle” mural on the Phoenix Pharmacy Building every day. Here’s more about this @seuplift and @fosterpowellna Foster Window Project


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Foggy this morning! We stick to quiet streets and travel slowly enough that the limited visibility doesn’t affect us other than create a pretty and eerie backdrop. Is fog a hinderance for you?


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I stopped by one of my favorite @LtlFreeLibrary this morning: Reading is Magical!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I’ve been stopping by Little Free Libraries to leave books lately because I wasn’t organized enough to assemble a pile to donate during our schools’ Children’s Book Harvests ****BUT**** I just checked out @PDXbookbank and see I can donate directly!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
More @PDXbookbank info. It’s just a 40-minute bike ride from home for me!


You Retweeted

Children’s Book Bank
@PDXbookbank · Nov 9
Our annual Children’s Book Harvest is in full swing! This impressive donation (23 boxes!) came from Rieke Elementary. These books will be cleaned, repaired, and redistributed to students in our community. Many thanks from us (and Clifford😉)!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Have you heard of a “walking school bus?” (Or “WSB” if you’re into acronyms.)

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
http://www.walkingschoolbus.org/ is a website maintained by @SafeRoutesNow and @USDOT with info on how to start a WSB and why you might want to.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Our elementary school counselor taught me something interesting: WSBs aren’t just fun, healthy, and good for the brain, they help with attendance!

Per @SafeRoutesNow: “Transportation is one of the key barriers to attendance that contributes to chronic absenteeism and tardiness.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Any one person can start a walking school bus and many start organically, but our school counselor is helping us coordinate a couple starting soon. Yay!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Since I’m the self-proclaimed “Bike to School Mom” at our school (and many students think I’m the Bike Fairy, though of course no one knows who the Bike Fairy is!) I’ve volunteered to lead one of the WSBs…even though it’ll mean a less simple morning for us.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I feel silly about this, but I have no idea how long it takes to walk to school–we’ve only ever biked! I was going to do a practice run yesterday, but my sick student got us off the hook.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
So I can sort of relate to how tough it is to break the routine when that routine is driving to school and you’re tempted to switch to walking, biking, or busing to school.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bike to school.
If you want to follow the local SRTS account, find it here: @SafeRoutesPNW


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
While I’m talking SRTS, we have some great free resources (i.e. FREE PRIZES) here in Portland. @PBOTinfo and @thestreettrust provided all schools who filled out the form with prizes for Walk to School Day last month. I wrote about it on @bikeportland: Family Biking: Time to plan for Walk and Roll to School Day


You Retweeted

SafeRoutes PNW
@SafeRoutesPNW · Nov 17
There are many SRTS programs in the greater Portland area – in Portland alone, great work is being done by @PBOTinfo @CommCyclingCtr @OregonWalks and @thestreettrust


You Retweeted

SafeRoutes PNW
@SafeRoutesPNW · Nov 17
There are also #SRTS programs at @multco and @CityofGresham pretty much covering all of east county and doing great work.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
I’m looking forward to hearing more about this via the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association!

You Retweeted

Foster-Powell
Replying to @eastpdx @SEUplift
@FosterPowellNA · Nov 17
Did you hear that the building was recently sold to an LLC that includes Preservationist Developers?
Phoenix Pharmacy has been sold


You Retweeted

Foster-Powell
@smb · Nov 17
Wading back into transit issues, I wish @trimet would bring (back?) weekend service for the 10 Harold, to make it easier, particularly for teens, to get to Mt. Scott CC.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Much of Portland is made up of grids of quiet (and flat!) streets so most days I explore between home and my son’s middle school and discover neat stuff. Like most recently: these chickens! 🐔!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
Since I bike with my kids a lot I’m pretty careful about choosing my routes. I wrote about my strategies on @BikePortland : Humans, bike maps, and of course, Google: How to choose family-friendly routes


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 15
You may have noticed I often have a dog in my bike basket. That’s Pixie! She and the Makery Flock liked each other 🐔❤️🐶. If you want to know more about Pixie and about biking with dogs in general, here’s my @BikePortland post on 🚲🐕: Biking with the family dog


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Cute thing I biked by today: the house with the little horses. Fun fact: they’re all the same size as our dog! (I let her walk through their corral once 😜)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
If you’re on Facebook there’s a fun group called “Hidden Portland for the Curious” that features things like this


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
That said, I like shining a light on Portland that’s not so “Portlandy.” I love that one of the questions for we curators is “How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?”
Click each of us on the main https://www.eastpdx.com page to read bios


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Here’s another @LtlFreeLibrary near us. It has everything quote-unquote Portlandy: doughnuts, hops, white stag, roses, Unipiper, PDX airport carpet, plastic horses attached to the metal rings.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Hooray for CCIM making transit, walking, and biking easier downtown, but can someone tell me what @ChloeEudalyPDX‘s “…the city is current ‘over-investing’ in east Portland” means? (In the third paragraph of the BikePortland post.) Thanks!

You Retweeted

BikePortland
@BikePortland · Nov 16
ICYMI, #Portland #pdxbikes had a huge night last night. Central City in Motion plan sailed through council! Fully updated story with all the action from the meeting here


You Retweeted

Stuckey 🌹⚽️🥑🏀
Replying to @eastpdx @ChloeEudalyPDX
@StuckeyDuck · Nov 16
I believe there are already millions of dollars allocated to planned and upcoming infrastructure projects in EPDX over the next few years.

How that’s considered “over-investment” after 4 decades of neglect, I’m not sure… but regardless, good things are coming to #EastPDX too!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Friday! We biked to Eastport Plaza where car parking looked hard to come by, but bike parking was easy as always. Dinner was sushi at Fujiyama—kids love the conveyor belt! 🚲🍣😁


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
Oops, missed a turn on the way home from Eastport Plaza, but that meant we cruised past both Portland Mercado and this fave Southeast Portland mural.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 16
In my defense of missing my turn…Portland street signs: illegible habitats for moss or directional aids??


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Let’s talk green spaces! Our family has only scratched the surface of the many great East Portland parks and gardens that are easily accessed by bike. Here’s an incomplete compilation of some not-the-norm playgrounds… (1/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Gateway Green: I like the easy singletrack mountain bike trails, the kids like the bike skills park. It’s *only* accessible by the I-205 Trail and is very close to the Gateway Transit Center. Nice for walking around, too!
@gatewaygreenpdx
Gateway Green (2/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
The Belmont Goats: Are moving again, but they’re in Lents for one more week! (Closed today and tomorrow, though.) Have you visited them? My kids love brushing their coats or pausing to watch them from the I-205 Trail.
@thebelmontgoats
The Belmont Goats (3/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Johnson Creek Property: One the Springwater Corridor Trail, less than half a mile west of Cartlandia, we love these small wetlands with gravel trails and interpretive signs. Great image from Google street view. (4/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
The PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory: One of those tucked-away places you might not notice–I didn’t notice it for a year of walking the dog right past it! Without a dog in tow (no dogs allowed), it’s pretty to walk through.
PSU Learning Gardens Laboratory (5/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Powell Butte Nature Park: We haven’t explored here yet, but I know we’ll love it. The south side of the park abuts the Springwater Corridor Trail so it’s easy for us to bike to. It’s popular for hiking and mountain biking.
Powell Butte Nature Park (6/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Leach Botanical Garden: Another on our to-do list. It’s close to the Springwater Corridor Trail, but the parts off the trail don’t seem like kid-friendly biking roads so I’ll do a solo test run. I suspect we’ll ride the sidewalk of 122nd south from the trail.
@LeachGarden (7/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Leach Botanical Garden (continued): p.s. cool event at Leach Botanical Garden with Why There Are Words PDX @wtawpdx tomorrow:
Six acclaimed authors read on the theme “Migrate.” For details and readers’ bios: link
4pm, $10 suggested donation. (8/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
/end. That wasn’t a very long list, do you have anything to add? I’ll retweet! (9/9)


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
We had lunch at @PortlandMercado today—yum! Obligatory photo of the bike parking.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Looks like we timed our @PortlandMercado visit too early–party tonight!


You Retweeted

La Arepa PDX
@LaArepaPDX · Nov 9

La Arepa PDX Retweeted Portland Mercado

Oh yeah, this is our event: https://www.facebook.com/events/714018888965908/
Portland Mercado
@PortlandMercado · Nov 10

We are thrilled to have La Arepa as part of the Portland Mercado Familia!!! Join us Saturday November 17th for their Gran Opening!!!


You Retweeted

Jeff Frane
Replying to @eastpdx @PortlandMercado
@jefffrane · Nov 17
That place is a real treasure!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Despite the nice weather, we played indoors today, at the Mt. Scott Community Center Roller Rink.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
We’re also very fond of the swimming pool at Mt. Scott Community Center. Have you been?? During family/open swim there’s a big slide, a current with whirlpool, toddler fun stuff, rope swing, and for adults: lap swim and hot tub. (Pix from their website)


You Retweeted

Steve Beattie
@smb · Nov 17
Wading back into transit issues, I wish @trimet would bring (back?) weekend service for the 10 Harold, to make it easier, particularly for teens, to get to Mt. Scott CC.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 17
Spotted while playing at the Mt. Scott Park: Native American Marketplace & Family Day next Saturday. Here’s the Facebook event: Native American Marketplace & Family Day


You Retweeted

Steve Beattie
@smb · Nov 17
The Teenforce program at Mt. Scott Community Center is pretty great, too. Our family currently has a teen who plays DnD there every weekend.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
Recap day! I’m so honored to have been able to curate the account for a week. I hope you enjoyed the peek into the life of a family biker. -madi


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I bike for transportation for all the reasons:
It’s fun!
It’s healthier for me than driving.
It puts me more in touch with my surroundings and community.
It’s non-polluting.
It’s cheaper than driving.
(I can’t rank them, it’s a five-way tie 😀 )


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
We (myself and two kids) bike everywhere, every day, with 10 years of practice under our belts.
But getting started even just replacing the occasional car trip with a bike trip is awesome!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I LOVE talking anything and everything bikes, with or without kids in tow, so please tweet at me at @familyride if you have any questions.
Choosing bikes and bike-related gear, finding safe routes, riding in various weather conditions, you name it!


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
It’s easy to fall into bike advocacy as a bike commuter, especially as a bike commuting mom. Advocacy accounts I follow are @bikeloudpdx and @nomorefreeways


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I read all the local bike news on @BikePortland (and I write a family biking column that posts each Tuesday).


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
Portland is one of the best cities in America for biking and even though East Portland doesn’t have a lot of the fancy infrastructure of close-in SE, we still have lots of intersecting quiet streets and useful multi-use paths–the Springwater Corridor Trail and I-205 Trail.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
I’d hoped to bike to all my favorite places as well as some new spots this week, but juggling life and kids with stomach bugs put a bit of a damper on that. However, showcasing family biking with sick kids was useful, too, I hope! And again: thank goodness for the school bus.


@eastpdx / Madi
@eastpdx · Nov 18
So thanks again for following along and I look forward to reading tweets from the next curators. I <3 this project!! -madi @familyride


Portland has new “bike-friendly” speed bumps, but I don’t like them for families

He meant to do that.

It’s always exciting to see something new in the world of bike infrastructure. A few Portland roads were repaved and treated with new “bike-friendly” speed bumps. BikePortland ran a post about them last week: PBOT’s experimental bike-friendly speed bumps. The article garnered a lot of great (and some silly) comments…but there were few comments specific to biking the bumps with kids. I’d love to hear what other family bikers think here or there or both.

Even when I’m not riding with my kids in tow I imagine how each road I take would feel with them along. I take this one step further for any new infrastructure and wonder how all sorts of people would feel using it. In the case of these new bumps I immediately thought of trailers and trikes. Save some tilty cargo trikes and recumbent or semi-recumbent trikes, trailers and trikes like to stay level. Hitting the rut with one wheel at slow speed would probably cause an uncomfortable lean, but I think hitting it while traveling at speed would be jarring for a trike or trailer and possibly cause it to tip over. I’d really like to hear thoughts in the comments from trike riders and trailer pullers.

Bagging-and-dragging is as wide as I get–it kind of fits.

I’ve had a chance to ride on a road with these new-style speed bumps for a while now–before last month’s SE Clinton project over four miles of SE Harold (from 52nd to Foster) was repaved and decorated with these same bumps. Except I haven’t been using them as intended until recently because the installation left a lot of gravel in the ruts and it stayed there for a long time. I’m all for riding through the pebble- and rock-sized gravel on unimproved roadways, but I was too scared to ride through the sandy gravel in the ruts. I don’t know if this means they’ll collect grit throughout the winter, but it makes me suspect they will.

Harold Street, where the sharrows don’t aim at the bike-friendly ruts.

Like others, I assumed the ruts were for emergency vehicles. Many of the greenways in Seattle, our old stomping grounds, have cushions spaced for emergency vehicles (though often only on steep blocks) with wider ruts. My kids could easily navigate the wider Seattle ruts, but the thought of them using these narrow ones worries me.

Biking west on Clinton without my kids I got the distinct impression that the ruts are for people biking fast to stay up to speed. Harold is flat and I’m very slow without a downhill incline or I would have come to this conclusion sooner. Back to Clinton, it’s really fun to hit the ruts while barreling downhill fast. But I hope that’s not who our greenways are designed for.

And what about in the uphill direction? It’s hard to get a heavy bike or trike uphill to begin with and a regular speed bump makes more of a hill to surmount. So the idea of a channel is nice, but aiming a heavy bike uphill at such a narrow rut sounds horrid.

I talk to my kids a lot about riding predictably and in straight lines (not that you’d suspect this if you’ve biked with them lately–they’re predictably wiggly) so I dislike the swerving encouraged by the placement of the ruts. Harold is wide so I’m not already biking in line with the rut–especially if there are no cars parked for an entire block, leaving lots of space for me on the right side of the road. I dislike slowing to go over the bumps, but it seems safer than swerving to use the ruts. But even worse, people driving (about half in my observation) swerve to aim their front left tires at the ruts. Or as I saw once (so far), the man driving a big truck took to the center of the street so he could put his left tires into the oncoming traffic rut and his right tires into his rut. Eek!

I don’t take my kids on Harold regularly (too busy) and they haven’t been on that part of Clinton since the repaving, but I braved one block of Harold with my 11-year old to see what he’d think and do. He said he’d normally opt to avoid the ruts because bumps are more fun, but he humored me and rode the ruts–the first one cleanly and the second one wigglyly (see the gif at the top of the page). He claimed he did that on purpose and didn’t seem worried about losing control, however I was a bit scared for him as I watched from behind.

Personally, I think a busy street like Harold should have speed bumps, but either regular continuous ones or a truly bike-friendly design with bigger ruts. Meanwhile, greenways deserve more diverters and fewer speed bumps. Assuming a diverter costs 10 times more than one speed bump (per this and this) it doesn’t seem that far out of reach.

Tipping hazards should be fun and in car-free settings (woop-di-doo at the 2014 Fiets of Parenthood).

Our second annual visit to Liepold Farms for pumpkins

We biked to the full pumpkin experience at Liepold Farms again this year! Here’s the recap of last year’s first-annual visit: Halloween Pumpkins ON A FARM by Bike.

This year was a bit different in that we biked just the three (well, four counting Pixie) of us–last year we rode over with the Portlandize family, but this year we met up with the Metal Cowboy and two kids at the farm.

The farm itself was terrific as always:
Corn maze!
Scavenger hunt!
Hay ride!
Dark maze (I didn’t go in and the kids thought it was a little scary, but they did it)!
Apple catapult!
So many pumpkins!
Goats!
Food!

My kids are that much bigger and stronger that the ride didn’t feel like such a huge undertaking this year, but that was balanced out by the weather being worse than last year. I tried to conteract that by using a makeshift tow rope for fun. Note: there are real bike-to-bike tow ropes out there and I’m intrigued by the TowWhee, which I first became aware of thanks to the Acme Bicycles Instragram (Tim and his son always have the coolest bikes and bike accessories!). I emailed with Eric of TowWhee to ask if anyone uses two TowWhees at once because it’s hard for me to do anything with just one kid at a time. Apparently some people use two TowWhees in a train-type orientation, but I was hoping to pull the two kids side-by-side behind me since they often ride side by side and chatter together to begin with.

Taking turns towing the kids with a cargo strap was an interesting experience. It taught me a lot about their different pedaling styles. My older kid is not a very consistent pedaler–which I had already learned from trying to ride our tandem with him once, and towing him was just as hard on me. I feel like we should do more tandem riding to work on our communication with one another, but oof it’s hard going! Meanwhile my little one was a breeze to tow and it was exactly how I had hoped towing would work in that I expended a little bit more energy than normal while he saved a bit of effort. Now that I’m not carrying them everywhere, I can afford to work a little harder and would love to translate that into them working a little less hard so we can go farther, more easily. So still working out the kinks on this idea. The TowWhee is only for use uphill, by the way, and is considered a tool for mountain biking.

Here’s my Strava recording of this year, 2:16 to get there versus last year’s 3:36 less business, more exploring (and doughnut stop) voyage.

The ride home was even more different because my kids deserted me to catch a ride home, gasp! Pixie and I had an extremely pleasant 1:22 ride home towing the two kid bikes and two big pumpkins (a 25-pounder and a nine-and-a-half-pounder).

I wrote about various local pumpkin patches in my weekly BikePortland column: Family Biking: It’s bike-to-pumpkins season! Here’s where to go and the comments section yield some good new ideas if you’re in the market for various places around Portland. I think Fazio Farms is closer to us than Liepold Farms, but it’s not as flat and simple to reach…but I hope to visit it next year if the weather cooperates.

Mount Rainier’s Westside Road

I found a great car-free biking spot nearish Seattle/nearish Portland: Westside Road, very close to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier. I didn’t have the kids with me for this trip, nor did Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie, but it would be really fun to take kids on all or part of it.

Here are all my photos: Mount Rainier’s Westside Road – October 12, 2018 – 45 photos
Here’s my Ride with GPS route for the trip
And here’s my Strava recording of our ride

Map of Westside Road (starting from Nisqually Lodge)

Elevation profile of Westside Road and back (from Nisqually Lodge)

Here’s a bit from Visit Rainier:

There was a plan once for a highway that would encircle the mountain, a road through the high alpine wilderness, a dream of twentieth-century engineering that never quite materialized. Budgets, priorities and simple topography combined forces to kill the idea, but parts of the vision were actually completed, and one of the key portions is this spur road from the Nisqually River to the Puyallup River.

It doesn’t take too long after leaving the parking area for the feeling of wilderness to take hold. The road follows Fish Creek at first, before a major washout and a log crossing, then climbs along a little copper-colored stream, another tributary of nearby Tahoma Creek. Over time, volcanic flows of water and rubble have scoured the surrounding area and the ghost forests in the flood path provide ample evidence of the power of the mountain.

The Westside Road is a gravel road just one mile past the Nisqually Entrance. The first three miles of it are open to cars (we only saw one car driving, and four parked) and then it’s nine miles of car-free gorgeous scenery. There’s a parking lot just before the gate so the easiest ride with kids would be to drive into the park and as far up the Westside Road as possible before getting on bikes. This is probably also cheapest: Mount Rainier entrance fees are $30 for a vehicle and its passengers or $15 for each bicyclist. For this trip we stayed at Nisqually Lodge (which I found via the BringFido website), just five miles from the park entrance so we left the car there and biked over. There’s lots of lodging there in Ashford and a decent shoulder for biking along, though I don’t generally ride on roads like that with my kids.

Most of the Westside Road is uphill so the easiest thing to do with kids would be to ride the first four miles past the gate before it heads downhill. At this peak before the real peak is a clearing and the Marine Memorial Airplane Crash Monument, making it a fine turn-around point.

After the memorial the trail goes downhill for two miles and then uphill another three to reach Klapatche Point.

View from the top, Klapatche Point

A lot of the trail is gravel, but some is dirt which meant for some muddy spots. None of the mud was too squishy for either climbing slowly or descending quickly through, during this visit anyway. I can imagine the mud might be a bit of a problem during and after rainy spells. The elevation at Klapatche Point is 4140 feet so we didn’t get to see any snow or marmots up close.

Speaking of animals, I let Pixie out of the basket to stretch her legs on the outside of the gate and then kept her cooped up for the entire “No pets” part of the trail, which I think is OK per national park rules since her feet didn’t touch the ground.

The road crosses several hiking trails upon which bikes aren’t allowed, but at least one goes to a waterfall and there are backcountry camping areas along them. It seems like it’d be safe to lock a bike at a trailhead and add a hike and/or campout to the bike ride.

The trail that continues when the road ends at Klapatche Point

Thanks to my friend Deb who rides Rainier often for the route advice! My original plan had been to ride up to Paradise again, but this was such a different experience and so fun! It was reminiscent of riding to Ipsut Creek for the 2016 Swift Campout, but much smoother than that gravel.

Happy Walk + Roll to School Day!

Yesterday, 10/10, was International Walk to School Day! …which in recent years has turned into Walk + Roll to School Day to include all active transportation…and come May when we celebrate what was originally Bike to School Day, that’s also Walk + Roll to School Day so active transportation is celebrated twice. Or celebrated every day of the year if you’re like me. But having a big party to celebrate other kids actively transporting themselves with us is fun to do on a couple special days.

This year I hosted a party in the park adjoining our elementary school (grades K through 5) to keep things close and easy. It worked great! I’m so impressed that people made it out earlier than normal–we had nearly 100 participants, starting at 7:30 a.m., for a school day starting at 8:15 a.m.

We gathered at the picnic table area, which is conveniently under tree cover to protect from drizzle. Luckily the skies were drizzle-free and grey, which keeps things warmer than blue skies this time of year. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. Our party featured prizes, snacks, and music, then at 7:50 a.m. the 42 walking and scooter riding participants (and three dogs) set out for a 0.23-mile parade along the curving path through the park to the front door of the school. As soon as this first parade took a left towards the front of the building the biking contingent of 47 set out for a slightly longer pedaling parade around the back of the school to end up at the bike racks, utilizing the wide-open school yard rather than the busy sidewalk in front of the building. It worked great! I hung out at the bike rack for a short while, handing out prizes to last-minute-arriving walkers and bikers. Some had forgotten about the party and some hadn’t known to begin with. There’s always room to work on promotion and advertising, it seems.

Prizes
Here in Portland we’re lucky that we can get free prizes to hand out! This year the prizes came from the City of Portland, but in previous years they’ve come from The Street Trust. We had stickers, temporary tattoos, sunglasses, reflective emoji key chains, pencils, and front and rear bike lights! They also provided four color posters we hung around school with details about our event.

Snacks
Our PTA voted to allocate $100 to us for supplies this year which we used some of for snacks. Last year I paid for everything out of pocket so this was really nice! I went with my co-organizer, Carolyn, to Costco last week and we selected big boxes of individual serving gummy fruit snacks and goldfish crackers and I have a lot left for future events.

Music
Leading up to the event I was very worried about coming off as un-cool because I said there would be music and I have no idea what kids listen to these days and never recognize any of the music at school events. Fortunately, I checked in with a friend who has two teenagers and he told me about the “Teen Party” playlist on Spotify. I listened to it and deemed it not peppy enough, but it gave me the idea to search Amazon Prime and I found the “Good Morning, Tweens” playlist which was perfect!

Advertising
* Posters. I already mentioned the four big color posters from PBOT. That was my only paper advertising this year, but I’m allowed to use the school staff black-and-white copier to make flyers so I could have designed my own posters or flyers and printed them for free, too.

* Newsletter. I posted a blurb in our weekly PTA newsletter for three weeks leading up to the event.

* Announcement. We have a Friday Morning Meeting in the gym every week. It’s the first half hour of the school day and many parents stick around for it, so making announcements is a great way to reach all the students, all the teachers, and some of the parents. Most announcements are done in skit form so I might need to up my game come May because to date I’ve only stood and talked. I spoke to the crowd the Friday before our event, but leading up to and during May I tend to speak each week.

* Sidewalk chalk ads. I love using sidewalk chalk to advertise my events by the bike rack and various entrances to school. This year a group of “student leaders” took care of it for me during the school day on Monday. Our weather wasn’t completely cooperative and some of the ads got washed away.

The sidewalk chalk was also great for marking our two routes. I wasn’t sure how I’d lead the two different groups until the morning of the event. One of the student leaders came to help distribute prizes and I tapped her to lead the walkers after doing a quick test run along the well-marked path during the party.

What about middle school?
I can’t speak for all middle schools, but ours didn’t seem to do any official event. There are some bikers, some walkers, and some school bus riders, but most kids seem to arrive by car. Our middle school starts an hour after our elementary school so I brought my older kid along for the party and then he and I biked four miles to middle school, arriving half an hour early so we had time to stop at a bakery around the corner for a celebratory pastry.

Another day in the life during summer break

Well, I learned nothing from Monday and my plan to keep our days short while we acclimated to the long summer days. Yesterday we biked 16 miles over 7.5 hours…well, my 11-year old and I biked 16 miles, but my eight-year old biked almost 11 miles before hopping on my bike. My 11-year old has become such a little workhorse, that I might ride the tandem with his little brother for our next big day and feel safe that he won’t need to be carried at all. I used to pull him behind the tandem on a trailer bike, but he’s a bit big for that now.

The temperature would hit 90 degrees so we needed to play in water. There’s a small spray park by our house, but it’s not all that exciting, plus I really wanted to support the Occupy ICE PDX crowd. We brought our lunch to eat outside the building and discussed current events. One doesn’t need any sort of personal history with Nazis or immigration to appreciate the current horrors, but I was able to explain to my kids that while we personally don’t need to worry about being separated, my grandparents fled Nazi Germany and my mother’s first memory was her father hiding in he attic of their home in the Netherlands. These memories haunted her for her whole life — when her breast cancer metastasized and moved into her brain two years before she died, she began reliving their whispered conversations.

I made the mistake of posting to Twitter about our visit and had my first brush with Twitter trolls.

It’s hard not to feel hopeless these days; several things in my own life feel tough and out of my control and adding the news (I read the weekday emails from WTF Just Happened Today?, but try not to read too many duplicates on social media lest I get overwhelmed) can make it feel like living under a cloud. After seeing the amazing response to RAICES’ Reunite an immigrant parent with their child fundraiser and adding what I could, and making the decision to visit Occupy ICE PDX, it felt important to share more publicly, on Twitter, but I’ll stick to more quiet support again. However, I’m incredibly grateful for the more outspoken fighters out there.

After lunch with the protesters we visited Poet’s Beach. I’ve been a few times myself, though never when the river was low enough to reveal the sand, and the kids had never been before. They loved the poetry. Actually, too much. It was so hot out and they had to stop and read every rock on our way down the trail before I could run under the shade of the Marquam Bridge.

A guy walked his Big Dummy down to the sand to keep it near him, but we locked up at the racks above the beach and our bikes were undisturbed. The racks were in the shade for our whole visit, too.

Since we had a long ride home and it was still hot out, it seemed wise to swing by a spray park to remove all the sand next. The kids remembered Salmon Street Fountain from the Kidical Mass PDX bridges ride two years ago. They still love it.

Since we were just a block away from Mill Ends Park, the smallest park in the world, and it has a new sign, we stopped by there to visit.

The kids were hungry again so we opted to take the Hawthorne Bridge and go to Cartopia Food Truck Pod. Food truck pods are so convenient when we have Pixie in tow. And when the kids are so hungry they end up eating from two different trucks each–options! I was relieved to find water at Cartopia as we hadn’t happened upon any drinking fountains and were just about through our six water bottles by then. I don’t usually ride the Hawthorne Bridge with the kids, I try to stick to Tilikum Crossing and the Steel Bridge since there are no cars. But they did great and my little one loved the bike passing lane on the second half in the street…though he didn’t utilize it to pass me.

We didn’t get far after eating and took a rest break in Ladd’s Circle.

Then just as we started our slow ascent I got the “Mama, I need a lift!” request. I’m pretty sure a headwind hit us just then, too. Or maybe I was just tired. Or both.

I’m relieved it’ll be cooler for a while now and I’ll try again to work on gradually building up our summer hours.