25 September 2009

Campus Cycle Culture

We went over to the UPS campus to kick around the soccer ball last night. The girls asked to stop so they could catch part of the co-ed game. Many of the players cycled to the match, which reminded me of this scene from our Cambridge, UK, vacation last October.

While we were running around on our own pitch, a cyclist pulled up to the Madsen and dropped a leaflet in the bucket.

My first thought was: who paid to print this? They make it sound like a fun time, though the part about freedom from speeding cars seems far-fetched. One of these days I'm going to participate in a Critical Mass ride, just like I rode the STP once.

I'm more of a "ride everywhere and as often as you can, ride like you drive when it comes to rules of the road" type of rider, and I think that generally helps advocate the "share the road" principal better than a blob of bikes clogging the streets. I'm using the new bike lane on N 21st St, even though it still hasn't been striped. We've put over 60 miles on just our MADSEN bike so far this month, and that's all in a 2-mile radius from my house. I figure that kind of frequency will help drivers in my college campus neighborhood become more aware of bikes on the road, helping to increase safety for everyone.

If you're heading out on that ride tonight, don't forget your helmet!

21 September 2009

Bicycle Advocacy Opportunities in Tacoma

The City of Tacoma is holding several community workshops for Tacoma’s Mobility Master Plan:

Come to discuss and identify existing conditions and opportunities to improve Tacoma’s bicycling and walking environments, as well as connections to transit. Where are Tacoma’s vital corridors? Where are the connectivity gaps? Is Tacoma headed in the right direction?

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 5:30-7:30pm
South Park Community Center
4851 S Tacoma Way Tacoma, WA 98409

Thursday, Sept. 24, 5:30-7:30pm
Norpoint Centre
4818 Nassau Ave NE Tacoma, WA 98422

Monday, Sept. 28, 5:30-7:30pm
Rasmussen Rotunda in Wheelock Student Center
University of Puget Sound
1500 N. Warner, Tacoma, WA 98416

The Mobility Master Plan Public Meetings are being held in collaboration with the New Tacoma Neighborhood Council, West End Neighborhood Council, Community Council and the University of Puget Sound Transportation Task Force. For more information, contact: Diane Wiatr at 253-591-5380 or dwiatr@cityoftacoma.org

You could also attend the Tacoma Mayoral/City Council Transportation and Land-Use Forum on Thursday, Oct 1st, 6:30-8:30pm in the Carwein Auditorium at UWT. Go Q&A with future city leaders about their plans and visions for how and why we will get around town. More info at the Transportation Choices Coalition blog.

Here's one more - a class on how to be a bicycle advocate!

Tacoma Bike-In, October 17: Save the date!

What can you do to improve bicycling in Tacoma and throughout Washington? Join Cascade Bicycle Club and the Tacoma Wheelmen on Sat., Oct. 17 for a workshop on bike advocacy. We'll discuss how we can use our clout to demand better facilities and just laws for bicyclists. Also, the outcome of the bicycle and pedestrian count, and how the data we collect on bicycling is crucial to our safety as bicyclists. Together, we'll strategize on making a difference in Tacoma and working together for better state laws and federal funding of trails and other facilities. Schedule:
10am - 1pm: Workshop at the Tacoma Downtown Library, 1102 Tacoma Avenue South
1pm - 3pm: Bike tour of Tacoma with bicycle planners and special guests (stay tuned for details!)
3pm - eve.: Meet at the Harmon HUB for drinks
Click here to RSVP!

19 September 2009

UW Colors...

photo from Speedgoat.com

I really dig raffles. So I feel I should point out that Speedgoat.com puts together a "Pink Bike" each year and raffles it to raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund. The bikes are always over the top, and this year they've outdone themselves by going purple. Husky fans, you can get your names in the hat for this beauty for just $10.

17 September 2009

Just Biking Around

Well, we've been biking to pre-school in the MADSEN for two weeks now and it still hasn't rained on us. The kids are anxiously awaiting a chance to get the umbrella out. There was some wishful thinking this morning with the raincoats. The rides are pretty uneventful, though they do enjoy it when other cyclists ride by, like yesterday when a UPS student rode behind us for a few blocks. The new bike lane on 21st St still hasn't been painted, but that hasn't kept me from using it on the way home. I'm hopeful that the city will complete the job before all of the temporary lane tags come loose.

On Tuesday I led the Tuesday Night Ride for the Harmon Bike Club (join us, 5:30pm at The Hub.) While we were queuing up, a gentleman came out and reminded us that the Ride4US is taking place at Point Defiance Park on Saturday. This "all-volunteer charity raises funds to purchase ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers who provide entirely free services for as long as care is needed." I'm going to take the girls in the trailer for the 5-mile ride, free pancake breakfast, and bouncy toys. We were told that the longest route (62 miles) is the toughest metric century in the South Sound. There's also a walk and a motorcycle rally - talk about covering all of the bases!

I made it home from the ride with just enough daylight left for Gwen's maiden voyage on the trail-a-bike. We traded someone two panniers for it (Chris, I think we both got a good deal!) and it works great. I can't tell you how excited she was to be pedaling with me. She was very chatty as we did a short loop around the neighborhood.

The next night we started a little earlier and went for a 3 mile ride in our matching reflective vests. She takes being "a real bike rider" very seriously, we even had to stop so she could stretch. However, for someone who used to yell at me for going more than about 10 mph on our Xtracycle, she now loves going fast on the down-hills.

The positive experience with the trail-a-bike gives me hope that we may one day go on an epic family bike tour, like this family that was featured in today's News Tribune. They took their 9-year old son on a 4000+ mile ride from Shelton, WA, to Washington, D.C.

Until then, we'll keep pushing the pedals around town.

16 September 2009

Grit City Rides 2

This is part of my series on practical bikes I've seen around Tacoma that are helping people get around without cars.

photo by Bianchi

What: Bianchi Milano
Where: 5-Mile Drive, Stadium District, UPS campus
Why: The bike has a Nexus 8-speed hub, chain guard, fenders, and some comfy tires. You get a similar gear range to a mountain bike, which means you can tackle most of the tough climbs in town, but while wearing regular clothes, in the rain, and still be comfortable. When asked, a Milano commuter at the top of the St. Helens hill said that she did the climb up from downtown every day, and felt that the gearing was fine.

I'm a sucker for step-through frames, but there's also a regular diamond frame, and both are available in black or polished aluminum. I think the step-through model would be an excellent candidate for and Xtracycle conversion.

The ones I've seen around town are a few years old and are the traditional Bianchi Celeste color. Twice I've seen the same guy racing through Point Defiance on one of these, with clipless pedals and some little grips added near the stem for a more aero position. It's an impressive sight, and one that proves the versatility of this bike.

13 September 2009

Red Hot Summer Nights

Sarah and I went to our first bike-in movie last night at The Red Hot. It was a blast! About 30 people showed for a screening of "Breaking Away", and at least 20 of them biked-in on bikes of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. New Belgium Brewing was on-hand with tasty beer (mmm..1554...) and plenty of swag to go around. At the end of the movie, a bike was raffled off as part of The Red Hot's reCYCLE the Bike project. (They fix up bikes from the community and give them away!) The winner, who happened to be in need of a bike, was so excited that she did a few victory laps around the audience. It doesn't get much better than that!

12 September 2009

Endless Summer

We had a few days of wet weather, but otherwise this has been a phenominally sunny summer. The MADSEN Cycles bucket bike has been getting used nearly every day for outings to the park, short errands, and the thrice-weekly pre-school run. I keep wondering if we'll continue to use the MADSEN once the dampness of fall and winter finally hits, so we've been testing out contingency plans. Turns out a 4-year old in the bucket can easily wrangle a bumbershoot in the back seat at cruising speed, while still covering most passengers and not poking me in the back. Sweet!

Plus my mom send these flashy German-made raincoats for the kids. I think we're set.

However, the sun just keeps on shining. So we continue to bike over to the UPS campus to kick the soccer ball around in the evenings. If you see us there, come say "Hi!" so Gwen can tell you all about her bucket bike. Here is our latest journey through the lens of Gwen's camera:

10 September 2009

Grit City Rides

After spotting a few super sweet bikes around town lately, I've decided to start a new segment called Grit City Rides. These will be bikes that I feel are out there pushing the envelope of urban mobility in Tacoma, those that are not your everyday mountain-bike-turned-commuter rig. I'm limited to what I see on my usual routes, but hopefully it will be a representative sample of a greater trend towards utility cycling in T-Town. Here are the two stand-outs from last week:

photo by Velorbis

What: Velorbis Scrap Deluxe
Where: Being ridden at N 15th and Junette
When: a Wednesday evening
Why: Fat Frank balloon tires for our pot-holed streets, dynamo lights for visibility, full chain case to keep the grit out, and enough bling power to make you leave a Lexus at home. The one I spotted was sporting some yellow Ortlieb panniers on the rack, which are perfect for all four of our damp seasons. Europeans have been riding bikes like this for a century and doing it with style, too.

photo by Ultra Motor

What: Ultra Motor A2B
Where: Being ridden at N 'K' Street and N 11th
When: a hot weekday afternoon
Why: This is a hybrid electric bicycle, which works great for Tacoma's hilly terrain. I watched this guy climb up one block, then turn and climb another while keeping an easy cadence and looking cool at the same time. Full suspension and 3" wide tires make for a comfy ride, too. This was about the third or fourth hybrid electric bicycle that I'd seen in town, but this one is my favorite. I learned about it at an eco fair in SLC, one of the bike-friendliest cities in the country.

04 September 2009

Bike Activities for the 21+ Crowd

My favorite local bar, the Red Hot, will be hosting a bike-in movie night on September 12th at dusk. I spotted this poster from across 6th Ave and had to run over for a closer look. There's a decent parking lot out back, where I'm sure they will be screening the film. I have no idea what will be showing, and it matters not. The Red Hot is that cool. I'm thinking that our MADSEN bucket bike will provide the best seating option.

If beer and hot dogs isn't your party cup of IPA, but you're looking for a good time on two wheels that same night, then you could head over to this event held by the Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club:

Tour Wine Countries of the World
Saturday, September 12, 2009
5:00—7:00 PM
Wildside Wine
"The Room Next Door"
610 S Oxford in Tacoma

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Wildside Wine invite you to a wine tasting in Tacoma! Sample wines from up to 9 wine regions around the world. Meet Bicycle Alliance representatives. Support bicycle advocacy and education. $35 admission includes wine tasting and appetizers. Proceeds from this event benefit the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. Wildside Wine will donate 15% of all wine purchases that evening to the Bicycle Alliance as well. Space is limited, so buy your ticket in advance! Contact Louise at the Bicycle Alliance, 206.224.9252 x303 or louisemc@bicyclealliance.org to secure your spot in advance.

Either way, be sure to drink and ride responsibly. Cheers!