Category Archives: sustainability

Why We Ride: Thoughts on Motivation

Let’s talk about motivation. What drives you to ride your bike or walk? Why on earth — especially during these sodden, cold winter days — do you commute via bike or feet over a warm, dry car?

A little housekeeping first: when used in the same sentence as bikes, commute has many definitions. Most people associate commute with work. But work isn’t the only destination for a commute. What about school? or play, activities, errands, appointments, or even to run kids here and there? Maddie, for example, is a bike commuter in our eyes. And for the purpose of this article, if you use a bike to “get around” (say, any use not strictly for sport),  then you are a bike commuter too. This article mostly refers to “bikes.” But if your needs are better met by mentally substituting “walk” or “scoot” or “multi-modal” instead of “bike” as you read this post, you have our blessing.

share the road with a Kid

This discussion is not new, our bike tribe has been talking about this topic for years. Back in 2008, Kent Peterson did some posts: why do you bike commute? / Why don’t you bike commute?

You’ve heard of first world problems, right? Most people who live in the world’s wealthiest nations have abundant choices. One of those is the option to choose our mode of transportation. To get from point A to B, we can drive or walk or take the bus or use a bike, a scooter or a unicycle, or even hire a town car. Us first-worlders are blessed (cursed?) with commute options. Continue reading

Cargo Bike Old Farts

how we rolled in 2003, san francisco

I really enjoyed reading Todd’s latest post. Especially the retrospective and the Clever Cycles back story.

Todd and Martina have been riding Xtracycles since 2001. I knew they were cargo bike early adopters, but I hadn’t thought about the chronology or the details until I read the post. Continue reading

Bike to School Day

2012 Bike to School Day128 kid bikes, add some parent bikes, 8 dozen doughnuts, much-needed coffee for the parents who don’t like to get up earlier than necessary, police escorts riding with the kids and blocking intersections with patrol cars = successful Bike to School Day.

We hope you enjoyed Bike to School Day and Bike to Work Day!

more photos here

 – Anne and Tim

2012 Bike to School Day

Bike Touring with Kids (building character one pedal stroke at a time)

Too many months have passed since we returned from our family bike tour last summer to justify a trip report. But I think just enough time has passed to allow me to reflect on the experience and look forward to the next one. 

IMG_0006Last summer we loaded up Tim’s Big Dummy (with most of our gear), the tandem (equipped with 3 Ortliebs and a bucket pannier) piloted by Anne and the 8-year-old and the 10-year-old’s bike (toting her clothes, sleeping bag and thermarest) and  pedaled away from our house on a sunny Saturday afternoon in August.

We ended up in the San Juan Islands 5 days later.

SunsetThe family spent 5 more days camping, relaxing, reading, playing on the beach and enjoying the tranquility of Lopez and San Juan Islands. We then hopped on the Victoria Clipper and motored back to downtown Seattle (covering the same distance on the passenger ferry in a few hours that took 5 days on the bike).

The trip came to an end after a 5 mile ride back to our house in North Seattle on a quintessential Seattle summer evening.

Sounds nice, huh?

Recounting the trip in that manner makes it seem like a piece of cake. We pedaled, arrived 5 days later, hung out on the Islands for 5 days and took a ferry back to Seattle.

Truth be told, there was plenty of suffering mixed in as well. And some grit and definitely some character building.

This  NYT education piece about education, failure, building character and ultimately success reminded me of bike touring.

(stay with me for a bit). Continue reading

(R)evolutions per Minute (a cargo bike documentary)

Grab a cup of coffee and take 8 minutes and 33 seconds to watch this trailer for a new documentary being created about cargo bikes.

More on the project here:

Do you love your cargo bike? Has it changed your life? Your family? Your town?
Join me in producing an authentic crowdsourced document of a cultural revolution in progress. I’m seeking submissions from cargo bike folk all over the world to combine in the form of a feature length documentary. Send me your video, audio and photos by uploading to Youtube and emailing me a link. More info at http://www.lizcanning.com. Watch the trailer, visit my site, send me an email and learn how to become a co-director!

via Matthew

 – Anne

Brompton: It’s a Utility Bike

Portland on BromptonsIt’s been a year since we bought our matching yellow Bromptons.

Of all the bikes in our fleet, our Bromptons garner the most notice. Why? Obviously because of the tiny fold. And because they’re matching. And lemon-yellow. And we’re both quite tall and we look a little ridiculous riding them. And so on… basically they are not bikes for the shy.

Quite honestly, at the time of purchase Anne doubted our families’ need for Bromptons: we don’t travel much, we don’t have a shortage of bike storage space at home, and we aren’t big bus riders.

Tim’s purchase pitch smelled like bike lust to her: more of a want than a need.

But his negotiating skills (with Anne not the seller) prevailed and he eventually convinced her. He even pulled out the habitual-bike-purchaser’s classic line: “At this price, if we don’t ride them, we can easily sell them for more than we bought them!”

Anyone heard that one from a spouse before?

And we’re both glad he won the negotiation because in the past year, we’ve discovered so many uses for our Bromptons. Continue reading

RIP: Val Kleitz helped us all stay “rubber side down”

We got the sad news tonight that Val Kleitz  (ie, Bike Pilot, the Instigator, Rolling Jackass, Dreadnought,  former owner of Bike Smith, and all around amazing spirit), died Wednesday at age 51.

Val had been fighting cancer for about two years.

If you knew Val, even a little, then you know what kind of loss this is. And if you don’t know Val, here’s a little story.

My earliest memories of Val are tied to fast road bikes and hot pink Lycra spandex, circa 1990.

Continue reading

Kickstand Campaign

Thanks for bicycling in our city! stickers left for us in U-district. Kickstandcampaign.con
We found these stickers on our bikes today (outside of Goodwill in the U District).

When we got home, I looked up kickstandcampaign.org and found this blurb on their About page: Continue reading

Little Green Bike (Brompton rocks a hilly Italian commute + doing better here)

As Anne mentioned recently, we’ve been loving the Bromptons and the role they’ve helped play in letting us live car-light. Beyond the expanded Zipcar range, or the fact that a gorilla-sized dad and his 9-year-old daughter can ride the same bike, we’re in love with how easy they mix with transit. This is especially clear when bussing across the bike-hating 520 bridge (which normally requires us to ride a special—non Xtracyclebike, and then hope that the bus bike racks are clear).

Altogether the Broms allow for some nifty, who-the-hell-needs-a-car-at least-when-it-isn’t-raining-three-inches-a-day options.

But if we lived in a real city, with real density and real transit solutions, well, the mind boggles at the imagined practicality of our little yellow folders.

Well, thanks to this fine video from the 2010 edition of the Toward Carfree Cities Conference, in which the Little Green Brompton OWNS a freakishly hilly, dense-city commute in Genova (Genoa), Italy I’m boggled no more.

(hat-tip to video creator Massimiliano Amirfeiz from the Brompton Talk list)

After watching this commute (for the 3rd time or so) I’m also struck by how little* Seattle has done to flatten our fair city for the non-driving folks.  How about a Trampe up Queen Anne and Capitol hills, for example?

These motorized bike-lifts can flatten out the steepest sections of a city. Check out the video, but save yourself by muting the sound. If I was slapping them down around town, I’d also like another placed to ferry riders over Phinney Ridge.

I’m sure you’ve got some locations to nominate—0bviously West Seattle, downtown, and Beacon Hill seem like naturals—so let’s hear ‘em.

Of course I know this idea is fantasy. A mere mention of the option in San Francisco brought out the haters, who failed to see that this was an option to get non cyclists out of their cars and onto bikes, not a way to pamper already-riding hipsters who don’t want to “walk up the damn hill.”

I can’t imagine the spew and outcry such a plan would generate around here.

Sigh…  at least the Brompton video was cool ;-)

-Tim

* Don’t get me started on the SDOT propensity to route bike lanes up and down hills when they don’t have to. Instead of forcing riders to sweat their way up the Dexter hill for a Fremont-to-Downtown bike route, why don’t we just bite the bullet and build better infrastructure a mostly flat and under-traveled Westlake Ave?

Hills like Dexter may be fine for the neon-clad Cascade fitness riders, but casual commuters you know, the people who don’t call themselves cyclists, but still need to start riding if we want cycling to move out of the transportation fringeare never going to do it.

Sharing is Nice

Zip+BromptonTim and I are both officially Zipsters. I’m glad being hip is not a requirement, apparently all we need is a membership card to earn the title. I’ve been a Zipster for a few years and Tim recently joined when we  sold our final car last month. (can you believe we used to have four cars?) Since we started using it more, we have managed to slip  “zip” into our vernacular: Zip skiing, Zip Brompton, Zip trip, the Zip possibilities are annoyingly endless. Continue reading