Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alex's Commute

The picture there looks like it was taken deep in the woods somewhere. It wasn't. My buddy, Alex, works in the deep suburbs of Redmond, WA. Through the network of cul de sacs, arterials, and paved landscape of suburbia, he's found a 10 mile commute that contains about 5 or so miles of trails.

It's a great commute. I've ridden it with him a couple times. I rode it again with him today. It pops out right on the eastern edge of the Evergreen floating bridge on 520, where Alex catches a bus into Seattle.

His route, with more pictures is here.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I like this sign. Good thing it's on a hill, facing the climbing side. That gives you a few minutes to decode it. The sign is on the Sammamish River Trail.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On to the General Election

Congratulations to Richard Rush and Mary Verner, who are both moving to the general election.
Winning the general election will still be a challenge for both candidates. If you're looking to help make Spokane a better place, not just for cyclists, but as a place that encourages people-scale movement and living, you can do so pretty easily.
Get out your checkbook and help these two get into City Hall.
Think of the kids!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cycle the Bridges

Yesterday was the Cycle the Bridges event. Even with the rain, there was a great turn out. Last year it poured buckets and there no more than 20 people. This year, there must of been more than 50 or so.
Liza had to work, but Maddie and I enjoyed the ride this year.

I forgot my camera and I didn't even take a phone pic. Lame me.

I'll bullet-point the experience:
  • Maddie and I had a pre-ride breakfast at Frank's.

  • Lots of familiar faces. And I met a couple new folks. Maddie had a couple friends there too.

  • I found it curious that my buddy Bill's "rain" bike did not have fenders. His commuter does. Roadies: I'll never understand them.

  • Speaking of fenders: I didn't see many. I saw a lot of really muddy/striped riders. And riding behind the non-fendered folk in the rain doesn't rule. But I knew that. It's mostly dry here, and year-round fenders are not required. I took the fenders off of two bikes this summer. But they went back on the RB-T this morning. And they'll go on the fixed in the next couple days.

  • Mary Verner has a sweet old (pre-war?) bike. But she could use a more robust/"gearful" commuter.

  • The route was really good; only one 1/2 mile or so section where the innies shared the route with the outties. Cops/volunteer cops at key intersections made the route easy too.

  • Saw another Bike Friday tandem with father/son team. Cool.

  • Maddie is getting strong. She wanted to go fast the entire time. And after hammering the course, she helped grind up the south hill. We're slowly developing a riding language to communicate shifts, standing, hills, etc. It's so cool.

Tomorrow is 3rd Tuesday of the month. BAB meeting. All are welcome.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's Your Route?

One of the projects I do for the Bicycle Advisory Board is collecting commuter routes. I've been doing this for about 8 months. Clicking on the map there will take you to my site that shows all the routes I've followed. You can then zoom in/out on an interactive map. (If you're running a Mac, you must be using Firefox to make the map control work -- Also, it may be a bit slow and flakey, the application is running off an old server in my basement).

I really like this project. The way it works is that I follow bike commuters (on my bike) and track their route with a GPS. I then load the route into the map.

The main reason I like the project is because I meet a lot of cool folks. In general, people that commute by bike are my favorite kind of cyclists. I like seeing the different bikes they ride and how they kit up for their rides. I also like observing how different folks ride in traffic. Some folks take the absolute direct route regardless of traffic, while others avoid busy streets at all costs.

My hope in gathering the data is to see what kind of patterns emerge. This is one small bit of data to help in building the Master Bike Plan for Spokane. I think I still need about 50 or so more routes before we see stuff. But I am surprised to find that at the moment, we're literally all over the map. Going into this, I figured most commuting cyclists would ride and choose routes as I do.

Instead, I'm finding that each commuter is different. I guess that's not too surprising. Humans are like that.

However, the folks that have been commuting for a long time and who ride most of the year do share similarities in how they ride, how they choose their routes, their speed/fitness, and how they interact with traffic. I guess I find that encouraging.

Anyway, I need more data. If you commute in the city of Spokane and want to contribute please go here.

Oh -- and I realize that you could send me the data derived from Google Maps or some other tool, but the fun is in riding/meeting and the data is much more reliable if I can track it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Morning

Maddie and I rode downtown to pick up some tires from someone who posted them on Craigslist. The house was out there by Buckeye in the Corbin Park area. It was a beautiful morning -- about 70F and clear, so we weren't crazy disappointed when the guy was a no show. We poked around a bit, and rode through the alley to the rear of the guy's house and saw this beauty trike. I think that's a bike rack on the back there. That big boxy thing on the handlebars is ballast. Your basic cinder block, bungied to the bars. Nice. I wish this guy was there. Anyone with a rig like that is worth meeting.

Stop #2 REI to check out Maddie's new rig and to learn something new

We paid attention the other day when Maddie rode her little hand-me-down 12"-wheeled bike. It was way too small for her. Poor thing. Even after extending the seat/bars all the way to their safest heights, the bike is too small.

A benefit of Liza wrenching at REI is good deals. So Liza ordered the pink Electra, "Hawaii." Since Maddie and I were on the tandem, we couldn't bring it home with us, but Maddie was able to ride it around the REI test ride spot. It's very pink. It will be completed with pink streamers and a basket. It's a pretty BOB-ish ride, a single speed with full fenders and a chaincase. After the front basket goes on, it'll want a dynohub and full lighting system, but we may wait on that.

One of Liza's co-workers is a guy named John. He's a master mechanic and has forgotten more than I'll ever know about wrenching and fixing bikes. I was staring at his bike and trying to figure out the extra chainring wedged in his chain. I figured it out just as he noticed my puzzled look. It's a chain tensioner. Much more elegant than the old/pseudo derailleurs used on most bikes with vertical dropouts.
The non-descript bike here is actually a Bruce Gordon bike. Cool rig. Cool idea. He said he learned about this method of chain tensioning from a guy in Missoula. Anyone else seen this? John also said the trick is to use the same size chainring, which probably makes sense instantly to most geeks, but has me doing little mental exercises for a couple minutes before making sense.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Nelson Trails and Progress

Quick notes.

I did not ride that ramp on my RB-T. But I did have some fun tooling around the easy single track and the rail trail today on the mountain overlooking Nelson. Yowsa. These Nelsonites are serious about their downhill riding.

And this just in: the SE blvd lines/signs project passed unanimously tonight at the Spokane City Council meeting. I'm still awaiting a report for how it all went down tonight. If you were there, I'd love to hear the story.
Good summer days.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Want to Make a Difference That Lasts?

Now is your chance. Next Monday night the City Council will take public testimony to spend $50-75k to put bike lanes and signs on SE Blvd. When finished, this will create a sign/lined route from 34th AVE and Regal to 2nd and Sherman.

If you've been in the SE Blvd area this summer then you know that this street is in the process of being completely resurfaced. This is a major piece of roadwork that will likely not be resurfaced to this extent for at least another 50 years. So we need to get it right and we just have a sliver of time to get the funding so the materials for lines/signs will be on site at the right time in this project.

By the way, Mary Verner is the council person that is sponsoring this project. And it's no small commitment for her to take up. I've said before: who you vote for matters.

The Comp Plan bike map specifies this bit of road as a bike-laned route. The street bond monies that are financing this $2.2 million project are not to be used for "amenities" on existing road ways that are not pre-existing -- regardless of what the Comp Plan defines for a given road. There's not enough room to go into all the implications of that last sentence -- because there are many issues there that need sorting out -- but there's a brief explanation here about the basic issue of not requiring the application of the Comp Plan on resurfaces.

You may not like or need bike lanes. You may think that SE Blvd is not the ideal place for a bike lane.
You should still find the time to get down to the City Hall on Monday and testify that we need these lanes.

The goal is to create more cyclists. Bike lanes encourage new cyclists to give utilitarian riding a shot. Bike lanes slow traffic. Communities with bike lanes portray a sense of optimism; economic investment loves optimistic communities. Why SE? Because it's low-hanging fruit. There are other routes on the Comp Plan that route up this area, namely Rockwood, but it's not being resurfaced.

Note that $75k (upper range of potential lines/signs cost) represents less than 3.5% of the overall cost of this project. Three point five per cent. Give me a flippin break. What kind of city do we want to live in here?

The incremental cost for doing this work now, while the crew and project is on the ground is much smaller than retrofitting. And as a bonus, if you lay the lanes now, you can do a more permanent strip that goes down after the asphalt is laid. The semi-permanent/reflective strip lasts for years, while painted stripes require yearly or every two year updates.

What You Can Do
In a messed up twist of fate, many members of the Bicycle Advisory Board, including me, will be unable to attend next Monday (Aug 6th) City Council meeting. Arrg.

Please, if you can make it down there, go down to City Hall at 6pm. There will likely be a sign-in sheet to testify. When your name is called, tell your story. This isn't the Gettysburg Address -- it's just you telling folks why these bike lanes are important.

If you can't make it. Email your council person and tell them as a cyclist, you think finishing the SE Blvd piece is a no-brainer. Don't know who your council person is? Check out this map (with associated council person emails). All City Council folks vote on this, so even if you are not represented by a council person in the SE Blvd area, it's still critical (actually more so) to get your council person on board with this work.