Tag Archives: Commute

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

Joy-filled, kid-cam view of an Xtracycle commute

I’m a little behind on my blog / RSS reading (like 6-9 months, oops) so maybe this one has been all over the Inter-Webs. But even if it has, I don’t care. I love it and I’m posting it here anyway.

Nate Byerley, CEO of Xtracycle, spent some time filming his daughter Davis and their commute to school on a PeaPod (child seat) -equipped Xtracycle. The result is the perfect video to share with anyone who wonders why children should be transported by bike.

Watch and then answer me this: Have you ever seen such joy (“I see a kitty! …  Scream with me!”) from ANY child strapped into a video screen-equipped mini van or SUV?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Bikes are better!

Thanks Nate!

-Tim

Everybody talks about the weather but no one…

A wet trip homeIt was raining so hard when I got up Wed. morning I didn’t ride my bike to work.

Don’t worry, I still got there on the Xtracycle, but like most days, I found it made more sense to take my time getting underway.

My morning (many mornings, in truth) went something like this: I got up. It was raining. Had my Grapenuts and coffee with the kids. Raining. Helped them get ready. Raining. Said goodbye to the kids. Still raining. Shower? Yep, still raining.

Yet 10 minutes later I was on my way to work dressed in my normal (non-bike) clothes, rain gear safely stowed in the Xtracycle Freeloader. Rain-gear optional is a a pretty usual way for me to roll (and maybe the reason I can still justify owning my hideously ugly purple/pink/black, 18 (!) year-old REI Turismo jacket/pants

I’m not saying all this to sound like a total time-challenged-douche-bag-schedule-slouching-weather-rock-star or something—though if you got soaked yesterday you might think  I sound like one of those. Nah, I just want to share my two simple tools (well, three if you count the merino wool and four if you count fenders, but everyone knows that one, right?)  for staying dry this winter. Continue reading

Seattle Ride of Silence Tonight (May 20)

The Seattle 2009 Ride of Silence quietly rolls out from Gas Works Park at 6:30 this evening. The ride, if you aren’t familiar, is an international event intended to honor those killed or injured cycling on roadways.

I participated last year and was marked by the ride. It’s a rather eery experience when a few hundred normally chattery cyclists string out along the road for a completely silent, solemn parade. Other than the whir of tires, ratcheting of freehubs, or squeals of wet, longbike disc brakes (sorry about that), it really is a ride of silence.

Continue reading

Transportation Forum + Bike to Work/School Kickoff

I love commuting with my wife

I love commuting with my wife

Friday is a big day.

We kick off Bike to Work month (Tim) and Bike to School month (Anne and the kids).  I’m pretty sure we’ll be blessed with clear (or at least dry) skies, so don’t delay the start of your commute season. Remember, this is Seattle—the weather can only get worse as we get closer to June.

If you find yourself downtown with a spare hour around lunch time, I’d recommend checking out the Forum, TOWN HALL: Visioning the Puget Sound Region’s Transportation Future. It’s part of their ongoing Friday Forums series:

Transit demand continues to skyrocket while operating revenues are plummeting.  How do car sharing, walkable and bike-friendly communities, and transit work together to form a new vision for transportation?

You’re even bring your lunch so if your schedule can swing it—unfortunately, mine can’t— please share any good takeaways. From over here in the cheap seats, it looks like an interesting collection of speakers will be covering some major ground.

WHEN:Friday, May 1st, 12:00 – 1:30 PM
WHERE:
Bertha Landes Knight Room, Seattle City Hall (on 5th Ave.between Cherry and James St.)

More info at the Transportation Choices Coalition website.

-Tim


Snap! (Crackle, Pop) Goes the Xtracycle

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue

I broke my Xtracycle frame the last day of April and am only getting around to mentioning it on the blog now. It’s been so long I almost let it pass without comment, but figured the info may help someone else down the road.

First of all, I should be clear. It’s not really the frame—more the undersized tongue where the front attachment plate sandwiches the chainstays near the bottom bracket.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’d been hearing this creak, creak creak—first when climbing out of the saddle (which isn’t unheard of for someone my size), then later even when seated (which is unusual, even for us giant folks) and only applying moderate muscle. I kept checking the torque on the three attachment points and even looked for cracks on my Rockhopper frame and the X where it was visible. Everything seemed fine. Finally, the night before “Bike to Work Month” started, I couldn’t take the embarrassment of a noisy bike any longer. I vowed to pull the Xtracycle off the bike frame, coat up the “Special Nut”/dropout contact points with anti-seize and put an end to the creak once and for all!

It wasn’t to be. As soon as I backed off the Special Nuts torque, … CLUNK! What was left of the tongue snapped under the weight of the bare Xtracycle frame. On closer inspection, this piece obviously had been failing for a while. It’s hard to tell from the photo but there’s surface rust on the break, meaning the puny welds had been failing for a while. Sheesh, would it have killed them to beef that weld point up a bit? A small gusset perhaps? Still, at least it held until I got to the workstand, rather than failing on a downhill with kids on the Snapdeck!

So here I was, the night before the big bike commute month kickoff and me, the BikeJunction team captain without a bike. Or was I?

I looked across the garage and spied my spare Xtracycle. Spare Xtracycle? Everyone has a spare, right? I bought this as a loaner for friends and family but hadn’t got around to giving it a very needed tune. In addition to it being a couple sizes too small, the flat tires, rusty chain and ginormous exercise-bike saddle made it unridable for my commute. As a donor, though …

A mere hour later I had the old longbike frame joined to my Rockhopper and was ready for the morning commute. I figured I’d send my Xtracycle frame in for a warranty claim and do the swap again in a few weeks. That was the plan anyway; six weeks later is still hangs in the garage.

A few more notes/observations:

  • Check your tongue! Right now.
  • A bit of reinforcement with the original design would have gone a long way.
  • A gusset would have been great. Even better, a flat, plate-like tongue could probably serve a couple purposes — more metal-to-weld contact and the plate would spread out the forces on the chainstay bridge like an upper FAP.
  • The donor frame has some issues with the disc mount. I pulled the rear Avid brake off my original Xtracycle and it should have bolted right on the donor. Instead, the caliper rubbed the rotor, almost as if the mounting bosses were dialed in for 201mm rotors instead of 203mm spec. A presta valve “nut” worked under the mounts as a spacer, but I’m still wondering if they had a bad batch or something. Anyone seen this?
  • The Big Dummy and other custom Xtracycle options are looking kind of nifty. Less to break.
  • Finally, and I’m serious about this, check your Xtracycle for cracks! You might be able to do it with a flashlight and some creative neck craning, but if you have any creaks or squeaks you’ve been trying to ignore, pull the frame and check it out up close!

Snapped Xtracycle Tongue, other sideHas anyone else out there broken their Xtracycle? Had it warrantied? I’m starting to think it may not be worth the shipping hassle and time delay to send it back. I may just have someone tack the tongue back on there (reinforced, of course) and be done with it.

Summer’s coming, and with my luck I’m going to need a spare.

Bike-Ferry Commute Awesomeness

This is sweet. The volume of commuters is almost like something you’d see in Northern Europe. The video author says the state ferry system is thinking of bumping cars in favor of bikes because bikes generate more revenue per square foot of deck space. Makes sense to me—six or eight paying cyclists in the space of normally occupied by a lone driver is easy math.

Wasn’t it just last year they were saying passenger/bike ferries weren’t an economical option ? I guess they didn’t anticipate the impact of $125/barrel oil on the hearts and minds of SOV ferry commuters.

- Tim

via Greggscycles Plurk (-stream? -line? -uh…what is a plurk feed called?)

Friday is Bike to Work Day (So, go on, … ride)

Full Bike Room at aork

I hope you are all ready for Seattle’s Bike to Work Day. Though I like my nice bike room (above), I’m hoping so many people ride that I’ll have to find my rack space elsewhere tomorrow morning.

It’s a good day to take the bike commute plunge. The weather is supposed to be awesome. Cascade Bikes, Starbucks, Group Health, and others are pulling out the stops—something like 42 Bike to Work Stations will be staffed tomorrow. Expect (possibly less-than-warm but) free Starbucks coffee, Powerbars or equivalent, water bottles, stickers, and some nice bikey camaraderie.

Even though I plan to swing by two or three commute stations conveniently located along my route, I realize it’s not about the stuff. Yeah, swag helps people get out, but the important thing is getting a butt load of riders on the road and in the public eye at least one day a year. Need another reason? Cascade does a count/census on Bike to Work day; consider a ride on Friday a way of “voting for bikes” with your wheels.

Big News: Mayor Greenhouse Gaseous Nichols is supposed to be at the Westlake Park commute rally. One wonders what kind of example he’ll set. I’m sure Greg plans to model a bike during the event, and maybe even roll down from City Hall. I’m doubtful, however, that we’ll see Hizzonor traverse the Swing Bridge and brave the less-than-relaxing trek from West Seattle. I’ve heard a few people say I’m a little hard on our mayor, so I’ll tell you what. If you do see him riding outside the Westlake-City hall radius—say south of Sodo—do let me know (grab a photo, too!). I’ll gladly take (most of) my snarky comments back.

Don’t forget it’s also Bike to School day. We’ve covered school biking events extensively so I’ll just say this: Encouraging your kids to ride to school (and showing by example) is the right thing to do.

Ride tomorrow. To work. To school. For errands. For everything.

Ride.

-Tim

Seattle Green Lanes: Laying it on Thick

Green Lanes going in on the South end of Fremont Bridge

A fine SDOT crew was hard at work this morning as I headed into work. Yep, it’s one of the green lanes we blogged about last February. I’m still thinking the green is a bit of “Emerald City” gimick, but it sure looks nifty on a sunny day. Overall, I’m on the fence about their effectiveness, but this individual spot is probably going to get the thumbs up from me.

This lane helps in an odd spot where cyclists are forced off the Fremont Bridge deck/sidewalk and onto the street right where motorists—often feeling rushed and frustrated because they just waited for the drawbridge—need to make an immediate right. Unlike the new Dexter and Green Lake locations, I can imagine this effectively warning motorists that they are crossing a bike lane.

I’m still waiting to hear if the city is going to bother doing anything with the deadly Fuhrman/Bryce Lewis intersection at the University Bridge. I’ve already speculated that fears of admitting liability will keep city officials from acting there. I still hope I’m wrong, because this one needs attention!

Have you ridden any of these “lanes” yet? Lemme know what you think.

edit: added Green Lane Flickr set here

New Bike Lane on 9th: Safety (or is it mail?) First

New Bike Lane on 9th Seattle -- supposedly _much_ safer than Westlake.

You know that new bike lane on 9th? The one the mayor scrambled to say they had been planning all along but didn’t mention until cyclists started protesting the SLUT? The one that is supposed to be way safer than riding near the trolley tracks? Yeah, that one.

Um, apparently not everyone got the safety memo. This was just one of three vehicles I saw blocking the less-than-Nichol’s-sized lane in a mere three blocks. Lots wackiness along this stretch of bike lane—cars parked over the line, doors flying without a care in the world and people swerving in and out of parking places. Finally, Lance’s old team colors put me over the top. I grabbed a photo and bailed.

As one might imagine, I’m not a bit impressed with the engineering or enforcement for this project. Judging from the still impressive volume of bike traffic on Westlake, I think most in-city riders have voted. 9th isn’t going to be worth the trip until such time the city can bother to enforce parking regulations more seriously around bike paths. From what I’ve seen lately, I’m not hopeful.

I met some Cascade Bike Club advocacy guys at trolley talk at REI in March. They say when 9th is done it will be really cool. But they admit it could take a while. For now I think I’m going to take my chances with Westlake. At least I know where the tracks are and I’m unlikey to get doored.

-Tim