Neighborhoods and Bikes: Ballard

Sunday at the Ballard Library

It’s fun to re-discover neighborhoods by bike. Sunday we took an afternoon jaunt down the Burke-Gilman trail with the kids. We’ve visited Ballard more frequently since we’ve been on two-wheels than we ever did in our car. Some of the things that make the neighborhood a bummer by car (lack of parking, long traffic light waits, and its misfortune of not being on the way to anywhere) actually make it more desirable from a pedal-powered perspective. It’s a 30-minute cruise from our house — far enough away to make it an afternoon destination yet close enough to make it doable with the kids on the back of the bikes.

As we cruised the not-so-mean streets, we couldn’t help but recognize how easily a Ballard-dwelling family could maximize a car-free lifestyle. Don’t take this the wrong way — you can go car free anywhere but Ballard’s mix of pancake-flat terrain, good density (lots of cool little pubs, shops and restaurants), and a nice collection of less-travelled roads make it a simple choice for the bike life.

If we lived in Ballard, we’d be pretty darn tempted to pedal down to the Dutch Bike Company – Seattle and pick up a bakfiets — you’d be hard pressed to find a more natural neigborhood for one of these heavy haulers (Anne’s also pretty sweet on the Dutch Bike company because she’s been not-so-secretly lusting after an Oma since we returned from the Netherlands last summer — maybe in a few years when we’re done hauling kids around we switch from Xtracycles to matching Oma’s and Opa’s).

We arrived too late for the Farmers Market – much to our chagrin since we’d “promised” the kids a treat upon arrival. As you can imagine, the kids require an incentive for sitting on the snapdeck for 30 minutes in 40-degree weather; we can usually bribe their high-brow palates with European baked goods. With the bikes locked in front of Second Ascent we walked up the street to miro tea. We chose our pastries to go as the Sunday afternoon crowd didn’t really radiate kid friendliness (Disclosure: We can respect that — If Anne was a Sunday afternoon tea drinker, she wouldn’t want a couple of under-eights harshing her tea-mellow, and frankly, Tim isn’t normally a real big fan of kids who aren’t his.)

We hopped back on the bikes and cruised the two or so blocks over to the Ballard Library where we ate the goodies and drank hot chocolate and tea on some cold, steel art chairs under the cover of the library’s green roof. We had just enough time to go in, warm up and read a couple of books to the kids before the library closed.

We cruised home on the Burke-Gilman – making one more quick stop at the Fremont PCC for some yummy salad greens and ice cream (we’ve said it before: we earned it!). All in all, a nice last-minute outing with the family.

– Anne and Tim

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