Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cascade Farmer's Market Ride

It was a 1.25 mile bike ride from our apartment in Belltown to the new Cascade Farmer's Market over in South Lake Union . Along the way I rode some on side walk, some with traffic and some in actual bike lanes. The more I ride in this area the more I realize the need for more bike lanes - on Denny for instance. I arrived at the north entrance of the Market and walked my bike through to the south entrance, where after not having seen a bike rack yet, I asked the volunteers where the nearest bike rack was. They didn't know. They thought there must be one someplace near the Cascade P-patch or around the park. I walked through the area, then through the back of the p-patch to the road on the other side and still hadn't found one. I made my way south and east again along the sidewalk back towards the volunteers. It was from this approach that I spied a bike rack on the south side of the intersection they had been at. I locked up and headed back into the farmer's market. (You can read more about the market experience itself soon at This Northwest Life.)

After browsing and purchasing a few things I finished up by taking pictures and stopping to talk with someone at the Farmer's Market Booth. I asked them, too, if they knew where more bike racks were and they didn't , but guessed there would be some near REI. I pointed out that this was something cyclists visiting the market might want to know and he agreed it would be good to have that information.

I unlocked my bike and did a ride around several different blocks to find that the next nearest bike racks were across the street from REI. There are three along that road, all able to hold two bikes each. They were half full at around 4 pm. I figure they will fill up more in the evening when people are coming to eat at the local restaurants. With the market running till 7 pm I hope there will be enough bike spaces for everyone - once the market gets better known I wonder if there will be. Many of the restaurants in the area don't have any bike racks nearby at all.

I have to admit I was surprised to not find bike racks at the Cascade play area. Maybe they were hidden somewhere?

For Mark and I, cycling would be the main way we would get to the South Lake Union neighborhood, possibly combining bikes and the street car. At this point we won't find many places to safely lock our bikes while we are there. There is a serious need for more bike racks in the area, especially with a new Farmer's Market to come to and an increasing number of interesting restaurants.

The Tour comes to Seattle!

No, not the Tour de France! The Tour de Fat!

The folks at our favorite national sustainable brewery, New Belgium Brewing, who love cycling so much they named a beer for it, is bringing Tour de Fat to Seattle on Saturday, August 8.

The event will be held at Gasworks Park and will include a bicycle parade, beer garden, a general celebration of all things cycling and the presentation of a brand new bicycle to one lucky person who agrees to give up his car in favor of a bike for a full year!

New Belgium Brewing donates everything for the event, and it's free two attend, with two exceptions: there's an entry fee for the parade and you have to buy your own beer. All proceeds, however, go to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bikeworks.

The Bicycle Alliance is looking for volunteers to help with the event. You can even enter to be the lucky winner of the new bicycle!

Hope to see everyone there to celebrate cycling. Oh, if you go, be sure to click the link to the Tour de Fat site, and read the "10 Commandments of Tour de Fat"!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Veer, the movie Thursday, June 25 @ Columbia City Cinema

I'm excited about this! The evening of Thursday, June 25 Cascade Bicycle Club is hosting two viewings of Veer, the movie. Showings are at 6:30 and 9:00 PM. In between showings (at 8:30) is a talk with the film maker (Greg Fredette), David Hiller (Advocacy Director at Cascade Bicycle Club) and others.

The viewing is a fundraiser for Cascade's Major Taylor Project.

Here's the trailer for the movie:

More details on the Calendar at Cascade Bicycle Club's website.

There is a bike check next door to the cinema for $3. Ride your bike or take the bus (Metro's #7 goes there from downtown).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Something to get you excited for Link!

I found the video below on Streetfilms last week. It adds to my excitement for the opening of the new Link line running from downtown to the airport.

The Seattle Transit Blog also covered the opening of this line in January and February.

I've been excited for Link to come to Seattle for some time. Tacoma's had their line up and running for a few years now, but the community that could really use a ton of help with transit options, has been without a large-scale light rail option. Now, in less than a month, it will be a reality here. Don't get me wrong I like both the monorail and the South Lake Union Street Car, but their service is really limited in scope.

A couple of things stood out to me about the Phoenix system:

  • From its beginning it links three cities (including two university campuses)
  • Ridership exceeded expectations from the beginning
  • The line has become a magnet for urban development

I'm hoping that Seattle will embrace Link the way that Phoenix has. I've been in the Puget Sound area for 30 years now. In that time, I've seen our traffic get worse, and relief slow in coming. The creation of Sound Transit helped start us on the way to fixing that. Now I look forward to expansion of Sound Transit's service through light rail to really help change the way we look at our mobility and our cars.

I'm confident that once Link goes to the U-district and finally to the Eastside we will see a real transformation of the way we travel through our region.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thank you for not driving!

We saw this sign in the window at Free Range Cycles in Fremont today while we were visiting the Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade. I wanted to shout out "Your Welcome!" when I saw it.

The Fremont Fair always makes trying to drive through Fremont even more of a mess than usual. To help people get to and from the fair, not only did Metro have the usual bus routes running through Fremont (well, at least they did when the parade wasn't going), but they added a shuttle service (PDF link) to the event today. Cascade Bicycle Club even got on the "don't drive to the Fair" bandwagon and had two rides going to the see the parade.

We caught a shuttle this morning at Dexter & Denney. It was the second shuttle to depart the stop after we arrived. The one we didn't get on, as well as the one we did, were filled to standing room only. It reminded me of playing "sardines" in middle school!

We were dropped off at the south side of the Fremont bridge and walked across into Fremont. We'd opted not to ride our bikes becuase we knew that it would be wall-to-wall bikes, with them locked to anything and everything reasonably solid. We were right. It seemed like every railing, street sign and fence had a number of bikes locked to them (sorry no picture, when we thought of taking one, we weren't near a good spot, and when we were, well, I forgot). Unfortunately for most of the cyclists, I believe Hal Ruzal would have given them pretty poor marks on thier bicycle locking (see here, here, and here to see why).

The highlight of the day was definitely the community-organized, human powered Solstice Parade, complete with its contingent of cyclists. Hmm...I wonder if any of them joined the Cascade ride to the parade...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Preparing to commute by bicycle

In a previous post, I discussed preparing to commute by bicycle from a purely equipment-oriented point of view. While having the right gear for commuting is important, especially when your commute gets longer, there are other factors to consider when deciding, ultimately, to start your cycling commute.

How long is your commute?

This will be critically important in your decision of whether or not to ride to work. Logically, the longer you have to ride, the less realistic it might be for you to actually do so. This could be due to the sheer distance you’d need to ride each way, or perhaps due to time constraints before or after work.

Will you mix your ride with other modes of transportation?

This goes hand-in-hand with the consideration of how long your commute really is. A very long commute can easily be done by a combination of cycling and transit use. In fact, many cyclists do just that.

Is there a secure place to lock your bike?

You probably lock your car when you park it, wouldn’t it make just as much sense, if not more, to lock up your new, ultralight, easily carried-off vehicle? Does your place of business have good bike racks or another means of storing your bike securely? Do you work in an environment in which you can bring your bike into your office?

Are there showers or locker rooms?

Most businesses would probably frown upon you going through the day in your cycling gear. Does your place of business provide a place for you to clean up and change into your work clothes? Is there a place you can hang up wet clothing to dry after riding in wet weather?

I’ve cycled to work off and on since 2001. Each place I’ve worked has provided facilities for me to change, there’s been secure storage for my bike and even a place to hang up wet gear. Unfortunately, not every place of business will be able to make such accommodations available. If your place of business doesn’t, don’t give up. Look around for alternatives. There are facilities for cycle commuters popping up in cities all over. Seattle has Bikestation downtown. For a modest membership fee, you have access to secure bike storage and a locker room. There’s even a bike shop to perform repairs on your bike while you’re at work. Chicago has a similar facility as do other cities.