Saturday, February 27, 2010

Car-free weekend out and about

Last weekend, Maurie and I had our first car-free weekend since before we moved to West Seattle that involved more than just staying home and knocking about our neighborhood all weekend.

This being the first ever Seattle Tweed Ride, and the weather was looking promising, we decided that we'd join in the fun on Sunday. After exploding our closet all over the bedroom, and several plastic storage bins as well, we discovered we had little appropriate for the event. Time to visit some thrift & second hand stores. We'd decided that we really didn't want to get in the car this weekend at all, so we caught a bus into town. We spent Saturday busing and walkning through town, hitting thrift shops, and a second hand shop on Capitol Hill (ironically, a couple blocks away from where we'd meet for the ride on Sunday).

After a fairly exhausting day "off the island", as we tend to view our trips into downtown, we returned home and more or less crashed. Shortening my pants to knickers length will have to wait until morning, as will pulling together food and making the rest of the preparations for the ride.

Sunday morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed shortly before the alarm and began preparations for the ride. I brought the bikes out of the basement, got the picknick blanket and basket. We prepared food and Maurie shortened my pants. We got into costume and wheeled our bikes to the bus stop, arriving with less than five minutes to spare before the bus arrived. We had a good transfer downtown (less than five minutes to wait) and arrived at Cal Anderson Park for the ride half an hour early. People finally started to arrive right around noon, and continued to gather, drinking tea (and other libations), eating snacks and playing games.  Among those who showed up were Julian from Totcycle, Tim & Anne from CarFree Days, and Eric from Tubulocity.

Me, "tweeded-up" testing my stability with that huge picnic basket on my rear rack

 My dapper bride, posing with her bike

Shortly after 1 when we headed out for the ride itself. North up the length of Capitol Hill and across the University Bridge, then on to Gasworks park where we took a break.

We left the ride here, opting out of the pub stop, to make our way home, via the Seattle waterfront. We made a quick stop at the Fremont PCC to refill water and get some iced tea. While waiting outside, I was noticed by two gals who I worked with in at the state legislature. I must have been quite the sight!

We made our way by bike along Lake Union, and then up through Belltown to the Olympic Sculpture Park, where we rested for a bit looking out across the Puget Sound at the boats and the Olympic Mountains beyond. A deisre for coffee finally rousted us from our chairs and we made our way down the crowded waterfront to a Starbucks. So we didn't have to undo the half mile (hey, it seemed like that) of rope securing the picknick basket to my rear rack, we went in singly to get our drinks. The barista (technically, in this case since we're talking about a make here, shouldn't it be baristo?) had been at the ride until he had to go to work.

We made our way to the bus stop, only to discover that we had a 40 minute wait until the next bus home (really, one hour headways on Sundays for a route that goes to Alki, Metro? What's up with that!). Since it was getting chilly out, we decided to ride home. It was a pleasant ride home, mostly on milti-use path. As we rode along the Elliott Bay shoreline, we really were reminded why we love living here in Seattle so much. The Seattle skyline, the sunset over the Olympics with the ferries crossing the sound in the foreground, the smell of beach fires.
 Seattle evening skyline from West Seattle

Seven and a half hours, and a nineteen mile bike ride later, we were home...and ready to crash!

You can read Maurie's writeup on the Tweed Ride here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Seattle love on Streetfilms

Seattle's gotten a bit more love from Streetfilms lately, adding two more videos to the site.

Take a ride to City Hall with Mayor Mike "Bikes" McGinn:

How the city is addressing a particularly troublesome rail crossing in the "missing link" section of the Burke Gillman Trail:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vulnerable user bill dies without Senate vote

Tuesday, February 16, was the cutoff for bills to be passed out of their house of origin.  SB 5838 never made it to a vote of the full Senate.  It looks like next year Cascade Bicycle Club, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and concerned roadway users will have to take it up again.

On a better note, SB 6302, a bill that would have violated federal funding for the I-90 floating bridge by prohibiting light or other fixed rail transit across it, died in committee this year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thought-provoking picture

Snow Falls In Kabul
I love photos of cyclists going about every day life by bike.  This photo from Kabul shows a different side to the city than we hear about in the media.  I look at the picture and wonder about the man on the bike.  Is he going to or from work?  Is he visiting family or his sweetheart.  You'd expect to see a photo like this in a park or country-side setting, not in front of a bombed out capitol building in what is still a war-torn area.

What thoughts does the photo bring to your mind?

(Hat tip to Yakota Fritz @ for posting the pic)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Update on the Vulnerable Users' bill

Yesterday we received a response from Senator Joe McDermott, the sponsor of SB 5838, to our letter of support for the bill.  It appears that the bill is on the fringe of moving from committee to the Senate floor for action.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pedaling Revolution

I just finished reading Jeff Mapes’ book Pedaling Revolution. The book is a look at how cities are adapting to accommodate cyclists in urban and street planning by looking at selected cities throughout the United States, as well as a few foreign cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Since I’ve started to pay attention to transportation issues, and how cities are accommodating cycling in particular, I’ve been impressed with the strides Portland has made in becoming a cycling city. Mapes takes a hard look at the changes that have been made in Portland, as well as how far the city has yet to go.

His chapter Bringing Kids Back to Bikes was especially poignant. In the chapter he looks at the Safe Routes to Schools program and efforts in Portland schools to gets kids active and riding bikes. He talks of programs to teach kids to ride bikes safely that culminates with a group bike ride in the community surrounding a school. This uplifting section ends back at the school with children being picked up by lines of waiting SUVs.

This chapter hit me because I really believe that to change our transportation systems to embrace more active means of transportation, we need to reach out to and encourage the children. How can we do that when parents look at the bike as a toy and not a “real” means of transportation? I can understand the desire to protect children. After all, that should be a parent’s number one goal. But at what expense? Increasing rates of obesity due to inactivity? Fostering dependence on cars? Undoing the efforts of community minded folks pushing for livable streets?

I grew up in the suburbs with the nearest school I attended (an elementary school) just over a mile away, at the base of a large hill (we lived about 600-700 feet in elevation above the school). Walking and riding my bike to school was not really feasible for me. It wasn’t until I was in the sixth grade that I was allowed to ride my bike to school a couple of times in the spring. It is something that I would have like to have been able to do more frequently. My middle school was farther from my home, along a very busy road, and cycling to school wasn’t an option any longer. By the middle of my sophomore year in high school, I was enamored with driving, and didn’t consider my bike more than a recreational tool. It took me until I was in my 30s to reconsider my view. What will it take to get parents to reconsider their views on bicycles as transportation as opposed to toys?