Monthly Archives: September 2007

Streak Ends at 22 on World Car Free Day

Starcrossed race action

Sept. 23, 2007: I should have posted this when it happened, but gosh I felt soooo ashamed!

Anne and I had a great run going with the Xtracycles — We parked our cars for 22 days and let our bikes do the talking. Grocery stores. School pickups. Play dates. Parent dates. All of it. I even delivered a bike box to FedEx via longbike. It felt good …

And then we drove… on World Car Free Day of all days!

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What’s your Walk Score?

walkscore, inspired by sightline inst.

Enter your address and get your Walk Score. Ours is 74 – which is why getting around by bike and foot is a no brainer for us. We have a handful of grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants that are an easy walk or bike ride away. We also have parks, a library and community center which are close as well. Our kids go to local schools so their friends live in the neighborhood. That’s the main reason we bought our house – it’s easy to walk just about anywhere we want to go.

One of our parenting philosophies is to choose activities for the kids that are close enough to walk or ride to. I’m not interested in being a taxi service – driving kids all over town to go to karate, ballet (insert activity here). If the kids want to participate in an activity – it has to be in the neighborhood. So far it has worked for us – they don’t like riding in cars any more than we like driving them so we’re all happy.


Woody with the Xtracycle

Woody with the Xtracycle

Lest everyone think all Xtracycle owners are hipsters, earth muffins, or born-again yuppies, allow me to introduce Woody. We met Woody last week on one of our car-free errand days. I pedaled past his massively loaded rig on our way from downtown and just had to go back to talk to him.


His xtracycle is mated to a Giant electric-assist bike. He said he loves the Xtracycle because it carries everything he needs and gets him where he needs to go. He had 1507 miles on it since moving to Seattle. To me, Woody seemed happy, healthy, and suitably mobile. Evidence of the power of two wheels (combined with lots of cargo space).

Keep ridin’, Woody!


How many passengers can you fit on your xtracycle?

The folks at Bike Hugger ask “What do you use your SUB for.” Our main uses are mega Trader Joes’ runs and hauling kids around instead of driving. We’re up to three youngins’ and one adult at one time. With two Xtras in the fleet that gives us a capacity of 8. That’s Chevy Suburban territory!

We’re not going to do any long rides like this but it does work for quick, carbon- and traffic- free play date transportation.

three apples up on top

(yes, Mom was not happy with the standing boy. That kind of throws off the balance!)


Errand Day: Make it an Xtracycle day!

On Thursday, we took advantage of the kids being in school to run some needed errands. I had to pay a fine/buy a book (anyone need a copy of Ricks Steve’s Amsterdam, Brussels & Brugge?) in Wallingford, had to get the boy some new rain boots at REI, had to return some mis-sized but wedding-appropriate shoes to Nordstrom rack, and we both wanted to go on a ride together. Combine all of this with some super nice weather and you have the perfect Xtracycle date and errand day. If you want the details, here’s how it went down:

Errand Day Route

We dropped the kids off at school on foot, stopped at home for the Xtracycles and fancy footware, and then boogied up to the Wallingford branch of SPL. There I got the bad news that they wouldn’t take the book I bought to replace the book I lost. So much for my MLIS degree carrying any weight in the library world.

We leisurely spun over to to REI. Of course I had to try on shoes, browse the returns and contemplate lantern mantels. What can I say, it’s what I do.

Next stop was a two minute ride away: Nordstrom Rack. Despite the name, there’s only one bike rack anywhere near the front of the store and that was occupied by a partially stripped Huffy. The adjacent 2″ thick urban sapling wasn’t a confidence inspiring alternative so I waited with the bikes while the spillover crowd from the market gawked at the two Xtracycles.

By then we (OK, Anne) were totally starving so we popped down to the market and Michou. Michou is takeout sandwich Mediterranean eclectic place where you can get amazing fresh panini, salads, olives, pizza, and more. All at very reasonable prices. I hesitate to tell people about it because I don’t want them to get all big and fancy, but I want to keep the place in business. So there. I did it. Go. It’s good. And fast. And reasonable. And if it’s a nice day you can watch the tourist crowd stumble around in the sunshine.

Sated (though I really wanted to either grab a beer at the Pike Pub or a cookie at the Dahlia Bakery, we had room for neither), it was back on bikes to get the kids from school. Anne got our son from preschool while I swung by the grocery store for a gallon of milk, etc… I still met her at the elementary school in time for us all to ride home together.

Not a bad way to spend a day.

michou sandwiches xtracycle style


Back to School

1st day

The school year is underway. Our current practice is to walk up the hill to school then pick up the kids via xtracycle. The hill is steep enough and the walk short enough that riding up isn’t warranted if you don’t have somewhere to go right after…no need to get that sweaty at 9am. It may have been a trick of the light but I think I saw more walkers than usual. That’s something to be optimistic about!

We celebrated the first day with a ride through Ravenna Park to Cowen Park. Aside from the usual collections of street kids and sleeping junkies we had a great time.

first day of school on the xtracycle

There’s a good year ahead, I can tell.


Hey Seattle: Park that damn SUV and take your kids to school on a bike!

Park that damn SUV group on Facebook

Walking up the hill to a preschool meet-and-greet this morning we witnessed the first of the season’s auto laziness in bloom — the lady with the mercedes who lives on 29th but drives to the school on 34th (and she actually parked on 33rd… meaning she drove FOUR blocks) was apparently all geared up for another school year via car.

We watched an endless auto parade all last year. At a time of global warming, high gas prices, traffic from hell, peak oil, and a childhood obesity epidemic it’s beyond me how people justify driving their kids less than a half mile to school.

Mostly we observed and kept our mouths shut, but still heard plenty of excuses: “I have somewhere to go after this” or “my kids don’t like to walk” or “it’s raining,” or… (insert excuse of the day).

I think people are guilted into confessing something when they see non-driver out there day after day (oddly enough, nice days inspire the most excuses). I’ll admit some reasons are valid — I’ve been there myself. But when you see the same people loading their kids into the car every day as you walk by their house, see them at drop-off, and then see them pull up at home as you walk by toward your house five blocks further from school, you just have to call bullsh!t.

So duly inspired by the first day of school tomorrow I decided to create a group on Facebook called: “Hey Seattle: Park that damn SUV and take your kids to school on a bike.” I have no expectations for this group. Mostly it’s an outlet for me one step above screaming “get out of your car, a**hole!”

Luckily Anne has talked about beginning a campaign at our local elementary (Bryant, near Seattle’s University District) to see if we can get some more locals to park and walk or bike. I’m sure her methods will be less polarizing, more inviting (can you believe she vetoed my slogan idea: “One less fat kid: Bike to school.”), and ultimately more successful. For now, though, this is all I’ve got.

How about you? Wanna walk or ride to school tomorrow?


Car Free Dates

We’ve been on vacation and have a lot of catching up to do on the blog, but in the meantime here’s a joint post…

Ridin’ through Fremont post car-free-date

Tonight was one of the rare occasions where we got a sitter and had some grown-up time out. Tim is a total tightwad and it kills him to pay a sitter, but Anne keeps him honest (and I thank her for that -tk). We see so much of each other that sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we’d need to go out on a date, but the truth is that a little quality time together is essential. When you have 2 kids, sometimes it’s necessary to buck up and pay someone to watch them for a few hours.

Anyway, we decided to grab a beer and go to a movie. In the couple weeks since the longbikes have been built we’ve been driving less and less. It was a beautiful evening and we both just assumed that we’d ride. No discussion needed – we just knew. This meant we chose our movie partly because it was in a location where we wanted to ride (Ballard, down the Burke-Gilman trail). This also meant Tim the tightwad couldn’t use the free movie passes we had downtown but that would have meant firing up the car — not so free after all, or taking the bus (longer babysitting hour$ so even less free).

So we hopped on our longbikes and rode on down toward Kings Hardware and Ballard Ave. Both of us have been riding bikes for years. We’ve got the shoes, the sunglasses, the gloves, the shorts, the everything. The nice thing about cargo bikes is that you don’t feel compelled to drag all that into the picture. You just don a helmet and hop on the bike as-is (lovely Dansko sandals and all, in Anne’s case). It’s a really freeing feeling. What you lose in speed you gain in reduced hassle factor (and anyone who knows me knows I’m the master of hassle factor).

It took us about 25 minutes to get to Ballard. Maybe five minutes longer than driving and parking, maybe a tie if parking was tight or we had to wait for a drawbridge. Plus we got some exercise, talked, and enjoyed a light evening rain shower (not enough to even dampen us and it smelled great).

Once there Tim bitched a bit about Ballard’s lack of bike racks (c’mon folks look around. Lots of people ride bikes in this part of town and they need a place to put them) but probably would have bitched even more about parking.

We ended up skipping the movie in favor of a more relaxed evening of beers and dinner with friends, and then hopped on the xtracycles for the trip home. It was a beautiful night — we got some compliments “cool bikes,” popped into PCC to pick up some fruit for the kids lunches (and ice cream, but that’s OK we did exercise on our date), watched the freaks come out: “WHOOOOOoooo….take back the roads, ” screamed one dude as we rode up University Ave), and generally enjoyed another 25 minute ride. Just as we turned the last corner for home, Anne summed up the feeling of the car free date:

“Sometimes I wish I could go back to college and live in the dorms – life was so simple then. At least I can still ride my bike around at night – I used to do that a lot in college and it’s just as fun now.”

-Tim and Anne