Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cycling Spokane in Aught Nine

Ok. Let's keep this brief. Tight. Concise!

Bike Advocacy and City Stuff
We're on a roll. In 2009, the Master Bike Plan passed and is now baked into our comprehensive plan. The City hired a full time Bike/Ped coordinator.

Jon Snyder, another daily bike commuter (Richard Rush is the other) is elected to the city council. Although it doesn't appear that the region will land a $50 million dollar wad of cash from USDOT for active transportation any time soon, we have more work and attention going towards cycling than the region has ever known.

The goal for this area last year was to get some projects going. Off the top of my head, this year the Fish Lake Trail was given another few miles of paving and a nice trail head. (Last I heard, there was an earmark still surviving in a federal legislative bill to finish this trail -- by putting a bridge over the tracks). Five-mile road got a bike lane and will have sharrows on the descent come spring. We got sharrows (misplaced, but that will be remedied in the spring) on 37th and on SE Blvd. I know I'm forgetting something.

Next Spring we'll see completion of the downtown bike lanes (roughly: 4th St, Howard to Buckeye, Riverside, Jefferson). Hopefully, we'll find the money to stripe Addison heading north. The money for the completion of the Iron Bridge is available. That's my favorite by a long shot. There are likely others.

While it's wonderful that we're seeing this work done, it's still piecemeal and spending here represents a tiny fraction of the transportation monies spent in this area. This year we had at least 3 pedestrian deaths. Probably more. Councilman Snyder has made Complete Streets the centerpiece of his goals as a councilman.

In a nutshell, the concept of complete streets means that when the city does work on a street, all users of the street (car, pedestrian, cyclists, disabled, etc) are taken into account for the design of the street. Seattle adopted a Complete Streets policy a couple years ago.

My goal in this area this year is to help Jon get the word out on Complete Streets. There is a very-near-zero chance of the city adopting a Complete Streets policy if citizens are not demanding it. We must be vocal.

After watching the last few years of this cycling advocacy stuff from the inside out, I've realized that you must speak up. Often, it's just a phone call, or an email. I'm not talking about rushing city hall with pitchforks here. I have cycling friends that tell me that they are "not political." By taking such a stand, they are taking a political stand for the status quo.

DiiiiiissssssMount: high horse.

The Bikes

I've got a pretty solid line up that has been serving me well: the 747, Rawland, Urban RB-T, CX RB-T.

Bikes that came in 09:

  • The tandem. This has been around for a while, but we finally built it up and rode it. And I can't wait to ride it more next year.
  • The CB-Zip: an impulse buy that took a few weeks to engage my impulse. It's got studs on it so I've barely ridden it. I look forward to putting some super fat non-TG Pasalas on this baby in the Spring. I may do some overnighters on it too. On paper, this baby rocks. On the road, with studded tires, it's a monumental turd.
  • Shogun: this old chestnut had to come home. It has found it's true calling as a non-fendered, trial-riding, city-commuting, Pasala-wearing fixed gear. I grab this bike a lot.
  • Kogswell: Dang. I guess this was sort of an impulse buy too. Great frame. Takes 26" wheels and has standard tubing. I got a silly deal on it. This has to be some kind of record. I think I rode this bike about 2 miles before loaning it to Jon. See "bikes that went away" below.

  • Cycle Truck: as far as "stuff" goes; this bike tops the list for the year. It's a joy to ride. And without getting all gushy -- everytime I ride it, I really feel the love for Alex and his love of cycling that has evolved over the years that led him to design and build this bike. This bike is a snapshot, built of steel, of that love he has for cycling, as were the racks he's made for me in the past. Riding this bike, especially with a big load on there, really does something for me that's difficult to verbalize.
Bikes that went away or to loan in 09:

  • Kogswell: On loan to Jon Snyder. He calls it the "City Council One." We still need to get an internal hub and a chain guard on there for him. And I really want those Ritchey cranks back too. So there's work yet to be done. Pat and I are also going to build a rack for the front. It's damn hard to get that bike away from Jon. He rides the shite out of it. So making fixes and upgrades usually don't happen until something fails catastrophically.
  • Trek 720: One of my favorite bikes. My buddy Patrick is borrowing this beauty at the moment. I'll likely repo it in the spring.

The RB-1 is neither a comer or a goer. It's wrenching at my heart. It rolls great and it's fun to ride with those Hetres, but I don't like how it climbs or accelerates. That sounds cheesy, but I feel like I should really love it more. I may find a new home for this bike in the new year. Or I may just stash it back in the bike cellar and see how it feels in a couple more years.

Goals for the new year: couple the black RB-T. Ride Alex's new amazing bike.


The big deal here is the Pedals2People move. Come the new year. (Shit! that's in 2 days!) we'll have a new space out on East Sprague. There's so many moving parts here that need attention. We are very lucky to have a group of volunteers to make this work.

But we really need you: if you ride a bike, go to P2P next year and spend some money. We're pushing the envelope on this one and will really need community support to make a community bike shop. We'll have a yearly membership program that allows you access to a stand and tools any time, we'll have our world-record-setting pile of used parts for sale, and we'll have classes taught by pros.

Are you a pro mechanic that would like to donate your time to teach a few classes next year? We would love your help too.

Elephant Bike
Glen has been around for a while building bikes quietly for a few folks in town. This year he really stepped it up and teamed up with Simon (previously of WS-south) to sell some fixed gear high zoot bikes. In addition, he's got a queue of CX bikes and a pretty steady stream of fixes coming in too. It's been fun to get to know Glen, whose bike experience always surprises me. I'm trying to get him to blog or find someway to share his vast bike related experiences, he's got so much potential blog gold there.

Jeff and Lisa continue to grow this event. It's downright huge now. This year their hard work paid off with some international recognition. Not bad.

Bike events
SpokeFest grew again. Cyclocross grew too. I think CX is a good barometer of general bike growth in a given area. It's a very accessible sport for cyclists to try. So seeing that grow is a good thing.

One goal from last year was to get some bike races in Spokane City proper. We didn't see that, but I've heard mumblings that such an event may coalesce this year.

Not sure if the Weds Night Bike Nerd Hang counts as a "Bike Event," but it's nice to sit around for a couple hours a week and focus on nerdy bike talk.

Looking at last year's wrap-up post is sort of depressing in this department. If last year was my best year of riding, then I'd say this year, well, wasn't maybe the worse, but it wasn't as good as last year. I just didn't ride as much. Period.

There were some highlights though that ruled.

I did a bunch of spring and summer rides with Willy that were really fun. He's a good guy to ride with and I miss him.

Liza and I did two tandem rides. They were great.

Maddie started to come into her own as a two-wheeled, geared rider.

The Midnight Century was too hard for me. That was disappointing, but the ride was very satisfying and the follow up meal was hard to beat.

I did a bunch of overnighters to Badger with different friends. Fun stuff.

I think the longest ride of the year for me was about 120 miles or so. I want to do more of these next year. And at least one 200+ miler.

I discovered a few new roads, but I think 2010 will be the year where I do some driving to riding for some overnighters. I want to spend some time up there by 4th of July pass area. I want to drive to Chewelah and then ride northeast into the hills.

I want to spend some time up in the Colville National Forest this year: up around Sherman and Boulder passes. I want to explore the dirt roads and old wagon trails back there, but I also want to do a day loop where I go over both Sherman and Boulder passes in one day.

I want to race the Walla Walla CX race at Stanger Farms. I want to go to Portland and watch the CX finals.

So much for concise.

1 comment:

EvilElf said...

Thanks for the excellent roundup and Happy New Year!