Author Archives: Tim K

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.

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Me and My Bike: Teen video from Africa

The problem with having a single-topic blog (family biking in case you’ve forgotten … it has been a while), is that sometimes we run out of things worth saying out loud. Do any of you really need to hear about our heaviest Trader Joe’s run ever? Or that we finally sold our car? Or that we still love our Xtracycles (a lot)?

I don’t know about you, but for me it gets kinda old and preachy.

So we give it a rest.

But as the gap between posts grows, we start second guessing every potential idea (“it’s been a two weeks since we blogged. It’s gotta be something good” and “it’s been a month and a half since we blogged, better be AWESOME”). The larger the gap, the tougher to break the cycle.

Luckily, busting out of our slump this time is a no-brainer. Check out some amazing kids from Kenya and the fun & inspiring hip-hop bicycle music video they created video for the 1 Minute to Save the World video contest (yes, they won)!

via HuffPost

The video has it all  – kids, bikes, mobility, and saving the world. What’s not to love? And it fits with our recent media and bike-music themes, too.

Tim

Note to self: … remember to help Tom the next time he’s soliciting donations/volunteers for the Village Bicycle Project!

The Bike Song (advocacy+hipster UK dance music)

I got Mark Ronson’s “Record Collection” a while back. Since then, this song pops into my head nearly every ride. But I kept forgetting to look for a video (I think I actually may have been a tad frightened of what I might find; at least after viewing the “Champagne Bike Party” video Ryan hosted on Go Means Go!).

But thanks to a timely Facebook update from my library school pal Abby (whose taste I trust implicitly), I’ve now got visuals— including some ’80s Brompton-based, retro-’80s Night Rider-style special effects, bicycles coming to life to stop a bike thief, and a parade of UK hipsters reveling in the joy of bikes—to go with a great song.

Beyond the cool factor of just being a good song about bikes, the The Bike Songs spins a really positive advocacy message, too. I especially  appreciate this gem for every teenage boy who feels pressured into ditching his bike so he can get girls:

“I can’t understand it, but i can’t really stand them
Girls love cars, but cars cause harm to the planet
Don’t you wanna take a joyride on my tandem
Humming on a huffy, don’t i look so handsome
Bass to bikes they’re so nice they’re priceless”

That’s right, young man. Keep the faith. The ladies worth having are going to find your bike sexy!

-Tim

PS – Portland bike advocate/planner wunderkind Mia Birk at REI tonight. Maybe she’ll share a little Portland-style bicycle secret sauce? I’d be happy with some tips to help us take our local car v. bike rhetoric down a notch or two.

I’ll be heading down there w/ Julian from Totcycle. We’ll either be the dudes on the really big (Madsen/Xtracycle) or really small (Brompton) bikes.  I bet Mia likes “the Bike Song!”

South Lake Union: More PARK less parKING

Over the past few years, I’ve take more than a few shots at the South Lake Union neighborhood. There’s the confusing infrastructure, the blade of death, and the dreaded old train tracks.

But there’s also one hell of an awesome park. Continue reading

Bikes, Beers, and no Cars. Coming soon to a trail near you (assuming you live in Madison, Wisconsin)

creative commons photo from mrmatt on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmatt/2936181715/A restaurant owner in Madison wants to create a low-impact, seasonal eatery smack dab in the middle of the local human-powered trail system. Entry to the proposed eatery would require  walking, skating, biking or … whatever. Just no cars allowed.

Described as “a hobbit hole meets the American Players Theatre meets a 1950s National Park recreational area,” the “Badger Den” would be a “bike-in” bar and grill open from April through October.

The best part about it is they don’t even have permission to use the space. Instead they are launching a little PR campaign (which I’m now helping, if Seattle PR does any good for a business that is yet to exist half-way across the country) to build public support so the city will have to approve the plan. And it seems to be working:

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said the cafe would be consistent with what the city has been doing to encourage bicycling. “I think it’s fascinating idea,” Cieslewicz said. “We’d love to work with him on it.”

Ha! I’d like to see more of this action-based planning here Seattle.

Overall the plan sounds lovely to me, though I’m a little ho-hum on the idea of bringing in supplies via golf cart. If they are really serious about this as a no car thing, how about using some cargo bikes instead?

Read the actual article for the full scoop. And if you’re planning to open one of these somewhere along the Burke (though the Sammamish River Trail is probably the more pastoral choice), let me know when to show up with my mug and tree-stump chair!

-Tim

The Bike Fairy says “Bike to School, Kids”

The Bike Fairy

The Bike Fairy gives prizes to kids who ride to school

May is officially Bike month. For most riders, that means Bike to Work month. But as you’d expect from a blog that focuses on family cycling, we like to remind folks that it’s also Bike to School Month!

Despite unseasonably cold and wet weather the majority of the month, 86 kids at our school have already completed their online logs for an impressive 517 bike trips to school. We’ve counted more than 100 bikes at morning dropoff twice already, and that’s with the sucky weather. These kids are kicking ass.

Today the focus around town will be on the grownups riding to work for the F5 Bike to Work Day — Cascade is promoting a ride with the mayor and photo-op at City Hall, F5 is sponsoring feed and swag stations all over town, and there’s a big after party in Ballard – but that’s OK, because we’ve got the Bike Fairy! Continue reading

Official Volcano Holiday (or Work? How about a beer and a bike ride instead?)

Refill your growlers on the beer cruise

Can you imagine a better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens than by blowing off (get it?) work to participate in the Seattle Beer Week Brew Cruise (this means May 18 for you non-volcanic historians).

St Helens at WikipediaThe ride starts at 1:30pm at Big Time Brewery and Ale House on the Ave.  in the U-district, and then, like a Yelm-swallowing lahar, it will ooze its way on the slightly-downhill-to-flat Burke-Gilman Trail toward Ballard.  Scheduled stops are: Big Time, Fremont Brewing, Hales, and Maritime Pacific. Mmmm…tasty. Continue reading

Seattle Bike Blog Meetup: What’s Your Agenda?

Walker and Bikes in Fremont at Brouwers

The Easter Bunny is due any minute, so I’ll attempt to make this brief.

Anne and I attended a (first?)  Seattle Bike Blog Meetup tonight at Brouwer’s Cafe in Fremont. Spearheaded by Paul Andrews of Bike Intelligencer, the idea (we think, Paul can correct us later) was to gather a bunch of local bike bloggers in one place and see if we can find some common ground.

We don’t have a single voice around here like the amazing Bike Portland, but we do have a buttload of passionate cyclists blogging their individual asses off on topics they care about. Of course, trying to make the leap from “individuals” and “personal passions” to “common ground” is huge. Herding cats is a phrase that comes to mind for me. Still, there are places where we all seem to overlap. Continue reading

Fresh and Fruity: Build your own VeloMix Bike Blender

Around here, we’re mad for smoothies. The youngest doesn’t want to get dressed until he’s had his blended concoction of mangoes, raspberries and bananas. And who can blame him? If  your parents offered to make you a smoothie nearly every day of your life, you’d take ’em up on it, right?

Besides being wonderful parents and frozen-food gourmets, we’re also a little nuts for bikes. So it wasn’t much of a leap to decide to combine our passions into one Xtracycle-flavored taste explosion.

bike blenderOf course, the easiest way to join these loves would be to get out the plastic and order a Fender Blender from Rock the Bike. These HPB (human-powered blenders) are much-loved by the  kind of Xtracyclers you’ll often see lingering, sweaty, around large piles of fruit at the Bicycle Music Festival, Burning Man, and various bikey celebrations. I’ve tasted the results of such purchased efforts and unfortunately, while the smoothies taste delicious, they are really tainted by the same bitter aftertaste that comes with buying most commercially produced goods.

So, no, in my quest for a pure smoothie, I wanted to skip the commercialism, re-purpose items from our garage and kitchen (items that I’ve already paid the aftertaste tax on), flex my languishing DIY skills, and see if I could take the bike blender power to 11.

In the end I spent more time on the project than I expected, but the resulting efforts were worth it. We turned this:

Raw Ingredients

Into this:

Sweet and Tasty!

Interested in building your own mobile blender? Read on…

Continue reading

Please Stand with Haiti

*updated with cider stand info below:

Thanks to Tom of Bikejuju for raising awareness of  the situation in Haiti and  specifically promoting Paul Farmer‘s Partners In Health (PIH) and their Stand with Haiti campaign as a worthy place for donations.

When I was in graduate school and working in an undergraduate library, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”  by Tracy Kidder was the  required “Common Book ” for all UW freshman. Me, as a good librarian, and Anne as a member of the extended campus community, chose to read along. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves touched deeply by the story of  Haiti, Farmer, and his organization PIH. Continue reading