20 April 2016

My Other T-Town: Tulsa

I learned to ride a bike as a kid in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We lived in a quiet, secluded neighborhood with a very low speed limit and plenty of other kids. We rode our bikes in the street, helmetless and carefree.

Clowning on my little sister's bike
Once while sleeping over at a friend's house down the street, we snuck out and biked to the video store, leaving the neighborhood and riding on the narrow shoulder of a few 40mph arterials in the dark. I realize now that the two mile roundtrip was extremely dangerous, but those kinds of bike experiences stuck with me over the years.

I reconnected with some of those biking memories on a recent visit to Tulsa with my family. The arterials are still wide and fast, many without sidewalks or shoulders. We did not see a single bike lane. My wife and I talked with Jason at T-Town Bicycles in South Tulsa, a shop very close to my childhood neighborhood. He said that he often rides to work using the marked Bike Routes that zig zag through the neighborhoods and subdivisions, connecting the large grid of arterials. There's a strong bicycle culture growing in Tulsa, but it's hard to see it through the sea of cars.

T-Town Bicycles is located very close to the Riverparks Trail, a haven for all types of bike riders. Mrs. TBR and I had a chance to ride part of the trail on cruiser bikes that we checked out for free from the Tulsa Townies bike share system.

It's FREE!
Only 2 of the 4 bikes worked.
The 40mph arterial adjacent to the trail has been punched through the field where I played as a kid. Riding through there on the trail as a grown-up was a surreal experience to say the least.

Iconic Landmarks of South Tulsa!
When a bigger bridge across the Arkansas River was built, they converted the old one to bike/ped only.
We ended our trip with a walking tour of downtown Tulsa, where I was surprised to see bike racks used to distinguish shops and business districts. And we found one sharrow painted street! I'm sure there's another one somewhere.

And with the passage of Vision Tulsa, a local ballot initiative to help pay for livability improvements, USA BMX will be relocating to Tulsa and the old baseball stadium will be turned into a world-class bmx arena. This was announced just days after we returned home, so I'm excited to see how this plays into the bike culture movement in T-Town. My other one.

06 April 2016

Missing Pages

Over the years I've used this blog as a place to document our bicycle adventures.  Even though 2015 was a big year for us on bikes, I didn't get a single thing posted. I won't attempt to go back and fill in the blank, but I am disappointed that I won't have TBR to use a a reference for 2015 - Tacoma's Year of the Bike.

Moving forward, I will make a renewed effort to get a few photos posted now and then in more of a micro-blog style. I used to feel like Tacoma needed to be showcased as a good town for bikes and wanted to help promote what the city had to offer. Now I just need to try and keep up with my family and our memory-making days on two wheels. Tune-in or tune-out; either way TBR is getting a tune-up.

31 October 2014

Tell Tacoma to Budget for Bikes

We need more Tacoma residents to speak up for the importance of bike funding. If you have not done so already, please visit the City of Tacoma's budget website and follow the link in the upper right to “Provide Your Input”.

There is some funding proposed for trails and pedestrian improvements, but we really need more on-street bicycle infrastructure that connects people getting to and from these trails and walkable areas to jobs and business districts. The recently completed bicycle boulevard that runs from South Tacoma to the North End is a good example of how our city can be more connected with just a little paint and signage.

For a list of the proposed Transportation projects, see pages 4-6 of this budget document: 

If you want to speak directly to our Mayor and City Council, consider attending a Citizen's Forum at 5pm on the second Tuesday of each month. The Citizen's Forum provides an opportunity for citizens to speak about items under the City Council’s jurisdiction that are not on that evening’s City Council meeting agenda. There are a few rules and limitations, but this is a great opportunity for you to take the mic and tell the city why planning and building more bicycle infrastructure in Tacoma is important to you.

Please feel free to pass along the link to any one else who has a voice that needs to be heard.

03 October 2014

Our Turn to Give Back to 2nd Cycle

2nd Cycle is a non-profit community cycle center in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. After years of making-do in sublet spaces, they will be moving to a new, permanent location at the end of this month. Moving is expensive and they are quietly asking for financial help with this process. Please consider making a donation through their Indiegogo site or swing by their existing shop at 1314 Marting Luther King Jr Way before the end of October to make a purchase or donation in person.

Mock-up of the new shop at S 12th and MLK

2nd Cycle has always been located in the heart of the Hilltop neighborhood. Organizers and volunteers have donated thousands of hours to keep this resource affordable and accessible to anyone and everyone. Since their humble beginning in the alley behind Le Le Restaurant, the vision for the shop has always been clear:

"To build a resilient, sustainable, connected community of cyclists promoting equity and acting in solidarity.  We see cycling demystified, normalized, and a part of daily life."

I started this blog in 2008, just after 2nd Cycle had opened it's doors. I watched them become an integral part our cycling community as it has grown substantially over the last six years. They have done this by making bikes accessible and understandable. They host a weekly Women and LGBTQ Night, offer neighborhood kids the chance to learn mechanical skills in a safe environment, and use a pay-what-you-can cost structure on some items and services.  

The efforts of the organizers and volunteers are commendable and this community resource deserves our support. You can find out more about the shop at 2ndCycle.org and on their Facebook page.


14 July 2014

Bike Camping In the City

Metroparks Tacoma started a new program last summer that allows folks to camp overnight at a few city parks on select summer nights. We couldn't make it last year, but this year I made sure to register early for a tent spot at Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park.

The park is only about five miles from our house, so we made this a bike camping trip: I hauled the gear on our cargobike and the girls (6 and 8) rode their own bikes.

With room for one more in the tent, we decided to bring a friend along (8). He rode his own bike, too.

The evening of our campout turned out to be one if the hottest we'll see all year with temps near 90F as I loaded up the EdgeRunner. Our saving grace was a small spray bottle hanging from my handlebars so I could mist the kids with water as we pedaled.

About halfway to the park, I decided to make an impromptu stop at the Sherman Elementary pocket library where my oldest crashed hard into a curb and pinch flatted. Doh!

Luckily the EdgeRunner has a 20" rear wheel, because I hadn't thought to pack any extra tubes for kid bikes. It only took 10 minutes to change the tube and kids rummaged through the library cabinet to find a few books to read later. Onward!

Stopping to see a deer bedded down in someone's yard

Homestretch: the waterfront trail between the Point Defiance marina and Owen Beach
Everyone pitched in to pitch the tent
Room with a view of Vashon Island and the ferry
The kids had a fun time playing along the beach and on the hillside bluffs rising from the shoreline. The park was busy on this hot afternoon and many day-trippers stayed until the park closed at dusk to take full advantage of the complete shade along the waterfront.

We packed some treats, but Metroparks also provided campers with a few individually packaged snacks. There were also board games to borrow. The kids were completely spent by 10pm so we missed the storyteller that presumably started after we were fast asleep.

Supermoon rising over Port of Tacoma.
We rose at 7am the next morning for a light breakfast provided by Metroparks (coffee, juice, milk, fruit, oatmeal.) My oldest said she counted 16 tents. 

 Beachcombing: the first sanddollar I've ever seen at Owen Beach
With another scorcher in the forecast, we set off for home around 8:30am to beat the heat. The ride home is nearly all uphill to some degree and I knew my little riders were only going to get more tired as the day progressed.

Watching the Vashon Island ferry never gets old.
Stopping to watch a raccoon
Our pack mule: Fully loaded Xtracycle EdgeRunner 
We stopped at a playground to stretch our riding legs after the steepest part of the ride home. I had promised the kids a donut stop, but at this point they were already saying that it was too hot for donuts. They wanted something cold for second breakfast.

So we stopped at the grocery store and the three kids split a 6-pack of ice cream sandwiches. This ridiculous pile of bottled water made an excellent make-shift picnic bench. As bicycle guru Kent Peterson says: cyclists are not nutritional role models. After nearly 10 miles of riding in the heat, these kids had earned it.

This was a great opportunity for us to try bike camping and make some memories without ever leaving the city. All of us had a blast. However my oldest pointed out that the camping would not have been as fun if we had driven to the park. There are still two more opportunities for you to Campout with Metroparks this summer. Consider making these bike camping opportunities as well.