Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New digs and up-coming commute change

I've grumped a bit about my current commute. Well, it's not going to get much better as far as timing. However, there will the possibility for more variety. Come November, Maurie and I will bid farewell to downtown living and move to West Seattle. We'll be very close to Alki beach, with it's wonderful activity and bike path. I'll still need to get into downtown to catch the shuttle to the office, but I can bike to downtown, take the bus, or get to the water taxi and take that across the bay!

Another nice thing, we'll have the kayaks at home again, and with a set of wheels for the boats, we can just roll them down to the beach and shove off! How nice is that?!

Well, that's all for now!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bicycle-Friendly Lopez Island

On Sunday of the long weekend, Maurie and I took a trip up to Lopez Island in the San Juans for the day. I'll admit, we took the car and drove around. Call it scouting for future visits (and there will be future visits). We did take our bikes, but with the wind and our wanting to see more of the island and hike around some, we ended up leaving them on the roof rack.

The roof rack brings me to an important piece of advice. If you're travelling by Washington State Ferry, bring your bikes inside your car, lay them down and lash them to the roof, or use a rear-mounted bike rack. The maximum height for vehicles without additional fee is 7 feet, 6 inches. If you go over that, you pay double. That's right, a $33 fare becomes $66. And yes, bikes will put most cars over that limit. Fortunately for us, the woman at the toll booth informed us and asked if we could get the bikes in the car or do something to lower the height to under the limit.

The ferry issue aside, Lopez was wonderful. The island is definitely a bike-friendly place. First, the roads are nice rolling roads with low speed limits. I think the maximum speed limit on the island is 35, but most drove 25-30. So much to see, and no need to rush around. Drivers all give cyclists room when they pass and there are bike racks everywhere! The racks are not all your run of the mill four or five bike rack, but some ar build to hold 30+ bicycles! Lopez Kayak and Bicycle (I think I got that correct) has build several wooden racks and placed them at parks and throughout the island at places one would be inclined to stop for a bit. We also discovered a map of the island put out by the Bicycle Alliance of Lopez. The front side is a map with some popular stops, the back has the parks and stops listed with a short write-up on them. It was very helpful to us in deciding where to visit.

We'll be back to Lopez sometime soon. There were lots of bays and coves in which to paddle our kayaks, and lovely terrain for cycling. Maybe come April, I'll ride the Tour de Lopez!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My new job...an adventure in transit

I started a new job yesterday. I'm now working the help desk for a health care organization. When I was called to come in for an interview, I was excited. I mean, the organization has the naming rights to a velodrome, they sponsor a women's cycling team for women on staff, and they have been sponsors of Bike to Work day here in Seattle. What better place for a cycling nut?

For all that, cycling access to the administrative campus is pretty lacking. Sure, there's the Green River Trail, which lets out onto Interurban Ave about a mile away. But that mile from the trail to the office, is along a narrow, winding road, that just happens to lose any sidewalks for about half a mile, and all shoulder for about 200-300 yards...around a curve. I watched several tractor-trailer combos rubmle down this road yesterday. So, that's out...

So, if I don't want to drive myself, that leaves transit or carpool/vanpool. Metro has an agreement with my employer to allow use of buses bound for South Base as a shuttle. These run quite frequently, until just before 8 am. My shift starts at 9, so taking a shuttle puts me there 30-45 minutes early! That's the most reasonable transit option, timing wise. Since my shift ends at 6, coming home looks to be worse. The last shuttle to Seattle leaves at 5:30. I can walk 1.3 miles to a Park & Ride and catch the 150 to downtown. I did that yesterday and got home at 7:15 (after leaving the office at 6:02). Or, I could wait 25+ minutes for a bus to the Rainier Beach Link station, and take the train. This will get me home, oh, about 7:15.

What's aggrivating to me, is when the Link was put in, it was routed along the south end of Boeing Field, and then south to Tukwila International Blvd., along an industrial corridor with scattered office complexes. From Rainier Beach to Tukwilia International, there are no stops. None to service Boeing (I mean come on, one of the region's major employers, and Sound Transit couldn't have put a station in for them?); not further down East Marginal Way for other businesses!

So, now I'm left with adventures in transit to get home