Monthly Archives: December 2008

This just in: January 1 Cargo Bike Ride is on!

2008 Opening Day Ride

We just received word from the Grand Pallet of Cargo Bikes, Val. The traditional Seattle Cargo Bike Opening Day Ride is a go:

Yep, this has to be the shortest notice ever, but it’s on for 1/1/09. Meet at noon at Greenlake, cruise to Golden Gardens, and light some fires to celebrate the new season.

These winter cargo bike events are as much about standing around eating, drinking, and telling lies (“so there I was riding down 5th Ave and that damn SLUT pulled out in front of me. I was fully loaded down—I had just picked up a an old toilet, two double-hung windows, and 10 gallons of paint from Second Use in South Park—and wasn’t sure I could stop in time. So I did what any Xtracycle rider would do—I took a deep breath and bunny-hopped the mofo while flashing a big smile to the driver and tourists as I cleared the roof”…) as they are about actual riding.

So plan to dress warm, bring some hearty food (expect flames of some kind for heating food and souls), your preferred beverage(s), and your sparkling personality. Heck, last year folks enjoyed a Christmas tree bonfire on the beach; you could even bring your tree if so inclined.

To get a feel for the event, check out our photos from last year. The carfreedays.com crowd had planned to be on our way out of town the morning of the 1st, but this event is forcing us to revisit our plans: we hope to stick around and at least make ride (though we may have to save the food and the lies for next time.

Hope to see you there!

-Tim

Edit: PS: Last year we met near the pool/community center — right by the outdoor basketball courts on the Gregg’s Greenlake Cycles side of the lake. I’m guessin’ that’s where we’ll gather again.

Merry Christmas

Sledding HomeMerry Christmas! We hope you enjoyed the holiday. We had a lovely day.

A rare snowy week in Seattle has paralyzed the city and kept us mostly confined to the one mile radius around our house. I guess 27 snow plows aren’t enough to keep the roads of an entire city clear.

I have to agree, snow in Seattle does force people to rediscover their legs. We’ve seen more people carless this week than normal. This seems kind of harsh, but it’s nice when people are scared or ill equiped to drive. The streets have been so quiet and serene. We could get used to these car-free roads. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get rid of the snow and have the roads to ourselves? Continue reading

A chill in the air? Get studs for your tires

Seattle’s once-yearly cold snap has me thinking traction. Sure, so far things have been pretty darn easy. Aside from the University Bridge (no, apparently they _don’t_ read the blog), the roads have been in great shape.

But the weather folks tell me this won’t last.We’re supposed to get some snow tonight and maybe tomorrow. Then they tell us to expect the teens to the low 20s (in Seattle!) for a few days, followed by more white stuff.

That’s tempting me to up the ante in the grip department. Studded tires are a logical choice, but hard to justify for two or three days a year. Even if I wasn’t such a cheap bastard, by the time I got around to ordering them it would be 50 and raining.

So what’s a tightwad with a hankering for traction to do?

DIY of course. Chains seem pretty nifty, but the process is kind of  high maintenance, even for me. That leaves self-studding as my only option. You don’t need me to point you to a studding tutorial — the interwebs are loaded with them. Totally cool studding videos are in shorter supply. Luckily, the Google delivers with this awesome video from Finland:

Even Anne, who doesn’t give a rip about studded tires,  watched the whole thing. It kind of makes you wanna grab the cordless drill and a beer, huh? If I don’t get snowed in tomorrow, I think I’ll head to Tacoma Screw for some #6  pan-head screws and give it a whirl.

Do you have some studding plans or experience ? (I can’t imagine what our Google search referrers are going to look like after this post). Let us know how it goes.

-Tim

Dear SDOT: A little Sand on the Univ. Bridge, please

The only stretch of ice on the whole commute

Day: The only stretch of ice on the whole commute

Glare Ice on the Bike Path

Night: University Bridge: Glare Ice on the Bike Path

To my friends at Seattle DOT,

If, by chance, you happen to read this little blog before heading out Tuesday morning,  I’d first like to mention how much me and my bike commuting buddies appreciate the great job you did clearing the University Bridge deck Monday morning. It was cold but you were out there working it.

Thanks!

With that out of the way, do you mind if I ask a small favor? Is there any chance that you could pretty-please finish the North and South approaches to the deck? It’s very slippery, especially at night.

I know it may not seem like there are many riders out right now, but you’d be surprised: I think more than a few of us would benefit from such an effort.

Keep up the good work!

-Tim

PS: I used your online contact form to report this issue, but it said I’d hear a response in 10 days. I figure it will be 55 F and raining by then, so this venue will have to do.

Second Annual Xtracycle Tree Haulin’

Xtracycle Tree Haulin 2008We pedaled up to the local tree lot over the weekend and picked up our Christmas tree. Although the novelty of hauling a large tree by bike has faded a bit, it was still pretty satisfying to pull up to the tree lot on our bikes, park right in front, choose our 6′ Noble fir, strap it to Tim’s bike with very little effort, and pedal home. No drama, no fuss, no big deal. Continue reading

Times bike fee plan: Let’s get us some readers

By now, most of you have read the “bicycle licensing” nonsense in the Seattle Times by formerly ready-for-pasture James Vesley:

Seattle went through a lengthy process of enhancing the Burke-Gilman Trail through industrial Ballard. Among the pretzel routes, all were made to make cycling as easy as possible. Those costs, born by the industries of Ballard and the city, could be offset by a modest fee.

Pick your favorite James

Good James or Bad? Do you ride a bike or own a shopping mall?

Uh, you mean the trail project that voters levied themselves to pay for as part of  the Complete Streets/Bridging the Gap measures? Yeah, that one.

In the past couple days I’ve read a number of the comments in response to the editorial and for the most part they are fairly civil, reasoned, and lacking in the hate that the PI Soundoff seems to generate. Frankly, most people are shocked that Vesley could put forth such a stupid idea.

Personally, I don’t think the guy is stupid.

Instead, I see his tirade as a well-planned effort to show that even the aging dean of the newsroom can still can bring in the readers. Newspaper budgets are shrinking, after all. You’ve got to demonstrate your worth to the advertising machine, and Vesley did just that.

Of course, as a long-time crony of Kemper Freeman and the Bellevue pavement brigade, it’s not like he had to stretch to play the part. (Side note: Kemper Freeman doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. Interesting….)

All this allowed James to score points with the pro-development community just when they were stinging from their election losses, while shoring up his big man on campus reputation with those whipper-snapper Gen-Y kids in the Times analytics department. Well played, James.

Never mind that some will use his pathetic ideas as an excuse to validate their hatred toward cyclists.

It’s just business, right?

– Tim

Building a kid’s bike that doesn’t suck: The Mt. bike frame

Continued from yesterday’s post: Kids’ Bikes: They suck and what you can do about it. It’s possible you may find this a bit too detailed. If that’s the case, visit the flickr stream for quick some ideas and examples.

Reaching for the brakes

Pre-upgrade: Reaching for the brakes

For the non-sucky kid’s bike project foundation, I started with Craigslist’s finest: a $65, 21-spd,  24″-wheel Trek MT 220. I like this style of bike because it has a semi-step through frame. I originally tried for a slightly older version, complete with lighter frame and a closer to a true step-through design. Unfortunately, all the samples I ran across were pretty hammered, having been through two or three kids. Continue reading

Kids’ Bikes: They suck and what you can do about it

Since the spring, our kids have really embraced riding under their own power. Anne has blogged about this a number of times. It’s been a great time for them. Meanwhile, as the resident gearhead, I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated by the absolute crap that passes as acceptable kid transportation in the US. Continue reading

Improve Your Chances of a Dry Commute with Hourly Forecast

hourly forecastThis time of year, the weather is pretty predictable in Seattle. More often than not, it’s gonna rain. Sometimes we get a break from the rain–maybe just a few clouds, maybe even some sun. To help us figure out the best time to head out on our bikes, Tim and I both use the  Hourly Forecast on AccuWeather.com. Continue reading