Tag Archives: commuting

Seattle’s Got a Whole Lot of Bikin’ Goin’ On

Just a bike commuter in SeattleI had minor knee surgery Thursday. I’m surprisingly mobile, (three laps around the block yesterday!) but not quite up for my normal ride. That meant a trip home from work via Metro bus today. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a very good bus commuter. I resent buses being late and early (and sometimes on time). Mostly it’s my problem because I have time issues. Regardless, I’d rather ride.

One advantage of the bus, I found today, is the ability to check on the state of the Seattle bike commute. On my daily ride, I see a few folks out there but don’t get a sense for numbers. I don’t pass a lot of riders and don’t get passed too much either. Mostly I just roll along alone, occasionally waving toward oncoming riders. Am I alone or just riding in a bike-free bubble? It’s hard to tell.

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Bicycle Neglect: $100M Buys Two Bike Racks?

Garfield High School Contruction

Richard Truax, YMCA Earth Service Corps adviser and social studies teacher at Garfield High School wrote an interesting opinion piece in the Seattle PI about what he says is a pathetic lack of bike parking at the Central District school and what he contends is complete indifference on the matter from both the mayor’s office and school district. Give the piece a read yourself, peruse the comments (the one from Beth2000, posted at 3:00 AM, is particularly entertaining – we love the middle-of-the-night-angry-ranting), and form your own opinion. Continue reading

Seattle Weather Smackdown: Spring Edition

Spring-Rain-RideWho would have thought—rain, sleet, and snow—all on the same ride? Well, maybe in January, but not on March 26th!

Sheesh, it was a wet, cold, and lonely night out there. Not a bit like last week when I enjoyed a lovely spring ride in the company of a backpack-clad fellow commuter all kitted out in Broadmark Capital gear.

As he spun along on his unencumbered rain bike he couldn’t help but comment on me and my Clampett-size load of crap:

“You sure ride with a lot of stuff.”

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Why Do You Bike Commute? Why Don’t You Bike Commute?

The pile at the door before work

We often get asked why we ride and we occasionally ask others why they do or don’t. Other than the usual (“it’s great exercise!”or “the weather sucks”), our insight into the matter has been lean. One thing I sort of remember from grad school (way back in 2007) is that sample size and makeup play heavily into the data returned by these adhoc surveys. To get better results, we’d need to reach beyond our little-ol’ personal network.

Luckily for us, superstar local bike blogger Kent Peterson has done just that. He invited his rather large readership to answer the why questions, going so far as dedicating a separate post for each. Continue reading

My Bike Commute = Daily City Immersion

Space Needle through the xtracycle barsOne thing I like about bike commuting is the opportunity to experience more of my city. In the morning, I might see a single scull or kayak slip under the University Bridge, the rising sun reflecting on the Olympic range, or a familiar landmark partially obscured by fog.

Of course, the downside of such an immersion is a heightened awareness of Seattle’s runaway construction projects. I rant about the state of our roads because I’m all too aware of how poor they’ve become. As I daily dodge cement trucks, impromptu street closures, and poorly patched pavement—a victim of heavy equipment or new-utility runs—I can only wonder about the sustainability of Seattle’s current development choices.

In the morning, I worry if Seattle knows what she is doing. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day from Car Free Days!

Car Free Days Happy V-day Poster

I hope you and your loved one(s) found a way to express yourselves in a less-than-consumerish fashion on this dorky, but harmless holiday. For us, the big evening involved me riding down the hill for take-out Thai, and a less-cheap-than-normal bottle of wine. Good times.

This may surprise some of you, but I really enjoy Valentine’s day. I have wonderful, cycling wife that I love dearly; I relish any excuse to celebrate our fantastic relationship (even though she thinks Valentine’s day is stupid). Factor in the hour I spent bike commuting to and from work and I think that makes for a pretty damn good day.

Full disclosure: I saw one of our readers/neighbors as I rode into work this morning. He said that he preferred Anne’s posts because she was more positive. Since I’m nothing if not a crowd pleaser, consider this my effort to be a good, perky, American (even though it’s debatable how good that really is). So, how’d I do, Dave?

Happy Valentine’s Day.

-Tim

Bike SLUT Issues Overblown, Says Non-Riding Mayor

I meant to post this before the Portland bike show but ran out of time. I was just going to let it go, but then I came _this_ close_ to crashing on the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) tracks on my way home tonight. So…

Old Tracks Make the New SLUT tracks even more dangerous

The Seattle Times is on a roll with cycling-as-transportation articles these days. I normally prefer the PI (mostly because the Times-owning Blethens are idiots obsessed with the estate tax), but these cycling articles in the Seattle Times are nice because they lack the PIs pathetic “Sound Off” public forums—normally a magnet for bike haters.

The article “New streetcar lines should be in center of road, council member says” reports that Jan Drago (and other council members) calling for bike-friendly future trolley development. Overall, good points were made. I must cross SLUT (south lake union trolley) tracks about four times on each way of my commute. It’s horrible. So far I’ve experienced no mishaps (knock on wood) but I have come close. Though the Xtracycles’ long wheelbase has saved my ass so far, I know it’s only a matter of time.

It’s quite obvious to anyone who has attempted to ride in SLU, that the city erred on the side of development (sidewalk boarding, even in the face of known bicycle hazards, was called for by Mr. Allen’s team and other property owners and approved by Mayor Nichols). As a result, bike advocates and now the council think the pendulum should swing the other way on future trolley development.

That’s a good start but it brings me to my beef with our beefy mayor. The article resurfaces a comment made by the Mayor in December where he said bike-trolley safety issues weren’t important. To me, this is the real story and calls into doubt the weight of this weighty mayors commitment to the Bike Master Plan.

In December, Mayor Greg Nickels complained in casual conversation that the bike issue was overblown. -P.I. article

Interim Route ON SIDEWALK?!?In case you haven’t been paying attention, Mayor Nichols has, shall we say, “put on a few pounds” while in office. As someone who is always fighting against weight-gain, I normally wouldn’t say a word about this. However, in this case I think his growing chin count illustrates how the mayor isn’t qualified to speak on the cycling-safety issue. Those puffy cheeks and straining Dockers make it painfully obvious the mayor hasn’t been piloting a bike around the Seattle traffic infrastructure on a regular basis.

So Mr. Mayor, please do me a favor — when you feel the need to talk about how something is not a cycling safety issue just SHUT THE HELL UP.

You have at least one expert on staff. Let them fill you in on the safety angle. If you can’t trust your staff, consider these other options:

  • Give voice to regular bike commuters to discuss their traffic experiences
  • Seek opinion from the Cascade Bicycle Club
  • Copy what they are doing in Portland (everyone else is)
  • Even lean on the folks who are in the trenches.

Yield to PedsPlease, Mr. Mayor, just do whatever it takes to keep your feet out of your mouth. Because until you make an effort to ride your talk and actually try cycling our pathetic infrastructure again, your opinion on cycling safety is worthless.

-Tim

More commute photos in the Car Free Days commute photostream at Flickr

Do you really need a shower?

Interesting discussion on Bike Hugger yesterday about accommodations for bike commuters. I agree – facilities for all types of cyclists are needed in urban areas. It would be great if Seattle provided secure bike storage facilities similar to bikestation around the city. Wouldn’t have to be huge – the size of a couple of parking spaces would probably be enough. Heck – I’d sure ride downtown a lot more for entertainment, errands and shopping if I was sure I’d have a secure place to park my bike. Tim and I often rule out downtown as a date destination because we’re not comfortable locking our bikes on the street while we’re seeing a movie etc. (edit by tim – especially in light of horror stories about stolen bikes, racks and all)

However, I don’t really understand the need for showers in the workplace or in a bikestation type facilities. Do you really need one? I’d think if you could just take a shower at home, dress properly for the weather, slow down a bit so you don’t work up that much of a sweat, you wouldn’t need to shower once you got to work.

Do you think these people shower when they get to work?

Amsterdam commuters

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Smackdown, day 2

Working tug fremont

I woke to the crunching sounds of feet on snow; my early-bird neighbors apparently made an unusual choice to leave their cars parked in favor of foot or bus. Welcome to Seattle where an inch of snow provokes panic. I must have been a bit nervous about the weather myself — crunching pedestrian parades wouldn’t normally drag a morning hater like myself out of a sound sleep a full 40 minutes early.

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Seattle Weather Smackdown

View from the bars

So, I haven’t had a real commute in a while. A five-minute bike ride or 15-minute walk to the UW campus doesn’t count. So, when I got a new job I vowed to keep up the carfree style we’ve been working since the summer. It’s still not a major commute — 30 minutes each way via Xtracycle — but most people, certainly, would drive (especially if they have a free, covered, parking garage).

Well, today was my first day. On the way in, I got the typical Seattle misting. Pretty much expected, even though it wasn’t supposed to rain until the afternoon. No biggie.

And the way home?

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