3-Speed in Seattle

I’m always amazed that people don’t realize you can ride a 3-speed in Seattle.

We pulled up to Red Mill Totem House after spending the day at the beach on Sunday. A couple sitting at a picnic table offered to move their bikes, but we were able to sneak ours into the rack without having to reshuffle. They have the hanger-style racks there which means that my bike can only go on the outside anyways (because of the front basket).

When I came back out after ordering the woman asked me if my bike was a single-speed. I get this question a lot because most people haven’t seen an IGH set up before. After telling her it was a 3-speed she asked me where I ride my bike. Um, here? Obviously. She said I must not go up a lot of hills (truth) or be very strong (semi-truth).

I always think it’s odd when people riding road bikes with drop bars fail to understand how anyone could ride around town running errands or carrying humans. Riding a bike with drop bars seems crazy to me!

Riding Stuffed

You know that feeling you get after Thanksgiving when you’ve eaten everything in sight & the beer in your tummy is fizzy? When you’re so full that you feel it in your stomach and your back?

This is how I feel all the time now. 

The difference in my bump from Saturday to Tuesday was INCREDIBLE. Saturday on the left:

Today I took Creme to campus. I haven’t been doing much riding recently because I’ve been spending so much time in studio & the GIS lab. When I do ride it’s usually Boda since I often want the carrying capacity of the giant basket. 

It was sprinkling so I opted for my coat instead of my cape since I wasn’t going far. The pockets of my winter coat are front hip pockets & even just having my keys in there makes me feel too full! Hopefully it warms up enough to switch back to my other jacket with a back hip pocket. 

The ride home was slow. Like turtle slow. Like my bike may have defied gravity slow. I took the Ave until the end of the bike lane & then took Brooklyn the last 2 blocks since there’s less traffic & I can go as slowly as I want without anyone revving their engines at me. 

But I made it up! I had my doubts. I was feeling so stuffed. Like all my organs were pushing against my skin & I was going to burst through! But I made it up. 

So here’s to making it up & growing tiny humans & being awesome. 

Today vs. last week:

Broken Toes and Biking Woes

I broke my 4th toe yesterday. I was carrying a hot bowl of soup & stubbed it against the coffee table. I knew it was broken right away because toes should not go in that direction.

It hurts way more than one might think for an injury so small. The bad news is: there’s nothing they can do. The good news is: there’s nothing they can do so don’t bother going to the doctor.

I straightened it out & taped it to the pinky toe. It’s like wearing toe socks. Horrible.

But the good news is I will have to bike more! Toes take forever to heal because they don’t get a ton of blood flow and you’re always using them, so biking will help keep weight off the injury site.

I guess that’s not a biking “woe” but the title rhymed so I’m sticking with it. SO HA!

Here’s a photo of creme in front of our holiday lights! Sound Transit does a nice job of changing up the artwork around the site & they added lights for some sparkle. Riding Creme this week has reminded me why she’s my “me” bike. COASTER BRAKES FTW!


Quite Possibly the Worst Bike Tour of Seattle (EVER)

On Saturday I went on a bike tour led by members of the Professionals Council for my Urban Planning program. This was supposed to be a tour of the city where we could get to know other people in the program and our professional mentor counterparts. We’ll be ranking potential mentors next week for a match based on shared interests.

The tour was set to meet in Volunteer Park. Almost instantly things went wrong. Students arrived expecting to rent Pronto bikes, as advertised on the sign up sheet. I took Creme (via the bus) but I assumed that we would meet near a Pronto station based on the flyer. No. In fact, the person leading the tour (John) didn’t know where the closest station was. He also didn’t understand the pricing structure, and failed to inform people about usage fees. He was under the impression that the bikes were per day. No one on the tour ever docked their bikes over the course of the next 4 hours. I imagine it was quite expensive. I explained it to several people.

It’s also worth noting that all of the members of the Professionals Council who attended were men. For a program that’s 50% women, this is a problem.

But back to the meeting location of Volunteer Park: sure, it’s a lovely example of an Olmsted park, but it’s also at the TOP OF A GIANT HILL. Which we promptly rode down. So why work so hard to point at one thing & have us head back down? Cruelty.

So we headed down from the park to Broadway where we rode in the uncomfortable sharrow zone for a few blocks until the protected bike lane starts. I noticed that most people were riding dangerously close to parked cars & kept swerving in & out of empty parking spaces. It made me uncomfortable that the ride leader didn’t have any sense of different skill or comfort levels.

So we’re riding along & stopping & more riding & stopping & at one of the stops the leader, John, decides to go on an anti-protected bike lane screed. He rants about how protected bike lanes cause people to be hit at driveways. He fails to explain how non-protected bike lanes solve this problem. Pro tip: they don’t. He asserts that there simply isn’t enough information about them. They haven’t been studied, he says. They’re a fad, he says. John apparently doesn’t know Europe & South America have been doing this for a while. And writing about their great successes. He should read more.

So then we do some more riding & stopping & John launches into another screed, this time it’s anti-streetcar. It’s an outdated technology, he says. It’s 18th century, he says. Apparently he doesn’t know when bicycles were invented. Or the all mighty combustion engine he thinks moves people better than the streetcar. It’s redundant, he says. We have Link now, he says. Well if redundancy is the mark of failure, we should start ripping up roads for cars RIGHT NOW, I think.

So we’re riding & riding & then we’re on YESSLER & isn’t that fun? It’s where numerous people riding bikes have been hurt or killed but yeah don’t give anyone any riding tips about streetcar tracks. LOLZ.

Then the PC members rant about density = bad. Growth bubble. BLAH BLAH BLAH. We should look at living in suburbs. Isn’t Bremerton nice? How about Everett? Just a short drive away. CAN’T HIDE CONTEMPTUOUS LOOK ON MY FACE ANY LONGER. AUDIBLY SNORT.

John wants us to bike up 4th until another PC member actually BEGS him to take us up the 2nd Ave lanes. He’s crotchety about this.

We meet at Pike Place Market & proceed to ride through it. On a Saturday. A FUCKING SATURDAY. PC members remark about the LOVELY example of a woonerf that is Pike Place. Don’t people driving massive SUVsΒ on this street make it so INTERESTING? INSERT CONTEMPTUOUS FACE HERE. Pro tip: a woonerf only works on low traffic streets (for all modes) not a heavily touristed zone that sees massive hordes of dazed wanderers.

We then ride on a stroad with a sharrows & fast moving traffic. An exchange student in the program is almost right-hooked. I’m the only person who checks in to see if she’s okay.


We’re now on a true woonerf with John decrying bike advocates who want to add a contraflow lane. He’s basically comparing them to pro-segregationists. At one point he actually yells the word SEGREGATION. We ride on the sidewalk for 5 blocks because it’s a one-way street with no contraflow lanes.

Lake Union. More bitching about streetcars. NO ONE CAN GET HERE FROM I-5 so it’s a failed venue. FAILED GODDAMNIT. That’s why Amazon is here. Because it’s failed, John says. LOLZ.

We ride into South Lake Union Park to MOHAI. People ding bells at pedestrians. It’s a DEAF EVENT. About inclusivity. There are signs. I point this out. No one else says anything.

People search for a Pronto station to dock at. Bitching about the Westlake protected bike lanes removing parking from John.

I leave. Quickly, and with gusto. I know who won’t be making it onto my mentor ranking card.

Riding Around Stanley Park

Stanley Park. The gem of Vancouver. We saved the best for last & hopped on our bikes once the conference finished for a nice, slow roll around Stanley Park. I was carrying all of my stuff with me so I could head straight to the train station. I rode with two other women from the conference who were on Mobi bikes (I’m going to review these next week).

Here’s the route we took from the conference, down past the Olympic Cauldron, down to the seawall, and around the park.


We rode in the Hornby Street protected lanes to get down to the Cauldron but man it was a pain! It was so hard to make the light cycle as it only lasts 9 seconds & we kept having to stop for people to catch up, meaning missing yet another cycle. Plus the waits weren’t short so this was a definite source of frustration. It took us almost 15 minutes to go 6 blocks.

Getting to the seawall from the Orca & the Cauldron wasn’t intuitive & we had to ask for directions from a security guard who yelled at us about biking & made us get off & walk. We rode down a long, switchback-y ramp to get to the seawall & it was pretty crowded! Plenty of people out enjoying the day.

The path is very cut-up with a number of 90 degree angles, forcing awkward turns & it was hard to ride as a group here. But I did find one of the heart-shaped racks! Yay!

Once we got in the park the bicycle path is one-way & it’s raised with a sharp curb down to the pedestrian area. It’s only 8 feet at the widest point, and most of the trail was only 5 feet wide with a sharp cliff face on one side & steep curb on the other. I would not have designed the bicycle section to be raised, instead I would make the pedestrian area raised, much like they’ve done on the new section of the BGT through the UW campus. Passing was often uncomfortable & I was worried about falling off the path.

There were a large number of gates along the trail designed to force bike riders to get off & walk for very short distances, most only 30 meters. This was frustrating, especially since the park wasn’t crowded! It seemed like a way to punish people riding bikes. I fancy myself a rebel, but the other women I was with wanted to abide by the rules so I ended up pushing my heavily laden bike several times.

One of many splash parks
Kids dryers next to the splash park

We took a snack break on the beach & then almost got run over by a dump truck trying to back down the trail half on the bike lane, half on the sidewalk. Yay for unnecessarily large trash removal vehicles!

Super cute box spotted at the beach

I left my new friends around mile 8 & headed onto the street to check out the neighborhood diverters that had been installed to prevent people from driving down the street while still allowing bike access. I then hopped back on the seawall & sped along to catch my fast approaching train in order to snag a forward facing seat!

Street mural

Overall the bike infrastructure in the park was lacking. It was poorly designed for riding which was a bummer as I’d heard such fantastic things about it! If you visit, of course you have to go, the views are amazing, but be prepared to walk & don’t plan to carry a wide/extra long load.

Side note: if your rack falls off but you’re too lazy to stop at a shop for repairs (and NO ONE at the very bikey conference has the tools you need) just hold it in place with your u-lock!


Miles with Madi

I went on a ride with Madi yesterday!

We met up at the corner of the Ave & the BGT and headed west on the trail toward Lake Union. She showed me the new protected lane on 36th. When I rode to the market 2 weeks ago they hadn’t put the bollard up yet so it was cool to see this new connection!

I wonder what they do with the bollards during the market. I didn’t see them this past Sunday so maybe I wasn’t paying attention? Or maybe they’ve just shifted over since the street parking isn’t there during the market.

We headed over the Fremont Bridge & got to see the leftover pop-up bike lanes! The paint was still there from PARKing day on Friday. It would be nice to have them as a connection down to the Ship Canal Trail instead of the current 1/2 block of on-street parking. You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to remove 3-4 spots (or maybe you would if you know anything about anything) in order to put a protected lane in here.

We rode along the newly-finished West Lake protected lane. It was nice & smooth but the curb was low (good for bikes trying to get up, but BAD if a driver has gas/break confusion which is also shockingly (?) common) & without parking stops the parked cars hang over onto the trail. This would be an easy fix: install parking stops to prevent pulling up too close to the curb.

We stopped off at MOHAI for coffee at the cafe but alas, our early bird initiative was too over zealous & they weren’t open yet. So we headed over to City Center via the Mercer & 5th Street lanes, but not before posing with Mirall at the Allen Institute.

The Mercer lanes are so vibrantly green! Overkill but fun all the same. We popped over to the International Fountain & the Fountain of Creation before going to the food court. After coffee we rode Thomas to Harrison before heading over the railroad tracks to the Elliot Bay Trail. We had an amazing view! Plus the weather was gorgeous!

The trail was quiet but we did see some skateboarders with giant sticks rolling along. We got to see a large cruise ship & some airplane fuselages sitting on the train tracks (DO NOT HUMP).  After that I’m fuzzy but I think we rode through Ballmer Yard to Thorndyke/20th/Gilman (WHY DOES THIS ROAD HAVE SO MANY NAMES) until we turned back onto the Ship Canal Trail heading east. We backtracked over the Fremont Bridge to 36th then down to the BGT & back home!

Awesome! Thanks for riding with me Madi!

Action shot!

I made it up to 42nd again before walking which was positive. I’ve been feeling really nauseous for the past two weeks & a giant wave passed over me as I was coming up the hill so I called Mike to help me lock up my bike so I could head upstairs & lay down. I felt better after eating so I’m hoping it’s just a determined stomach bug.

Bikes & Boats

Woo! I’m at Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place in Vancouver this week learning about place making & planning from people doing amazingly creative things in their communities!

Yesterday I put out some feelers on Twitter to see if anyone was interested in a bike ride after our sessions. Stephanie from DC & Chris from NJ took the bait! Little did they know I’m horrible at directions & perpetually lost. Fools!

We headed down Hornby with Stephanie on a Mobi, Chris on a rental bike, and I was on Creme. Our goal was Grandville market & they were closing in an hour. One woman gave us directions about taking a boat but when we asked someone else she said we would be able to bike there in only 20 minutes. But we should’ve known that her time estimate was unrealistic based on her outfit (full kit & road bike). After about 10 minutes of riding we saw a sign for the Aquaboat & I relinquished my guiding to Chris. 

We hurried down the dock & hopped on a ferry to Grandville Island. It was a pretty small boat but bikes are allowed & it was easy to bring them along. They’re a private company & don’t take transit passes. Cost: can$4.50. 

Once we arrived on the island we hurried to lock up & head into the market. Everyone was starting to pack up but we were able to walk around & to buy end of day donuts!  We grabbed dinner on the water along False Creek & I ordered the poutine! So Canadian. 

After dinner we bikes along the seawalk to Olympic Park where Dero, a bike parking solution company, was holding a social. 

At the social we chatted with more people from the conference about the difference between US & Canadian politics & attitudes. It’s always interesting seeing an international perspective on local & national issues. 

After the social we biked back along the northern side of the seawalk & got to see fireworks & colorful lights along many of the buildings. I’m horrible at night photography with my iPhone so I’ll let you google it. The path was relatively well light but I still used my big light. It’s a beautiful trail that is lined by parks & playgrounds. There are shops & restaurants & even at 10pm it still felt like a very active space. Both Seattle & DC can learn from this activation of waterfront space. 

We rode back up the Hornby lanes & I was so excited that I was able to ride uphill! And a large hill at that! There’s a Moby dock by the hotel so I left Stephanie & Chris there & headed down the block to my hostel. 

I’m going to write up something about the bike parking at the hostel once I’m no longer locking up there. I don’t like to write about my locking locations for fear that someone will read about it & then exploit the weaknesses I’m pointing out & steal my bike. Paranoid much?

Oh & I won a raffle! I got this cool shirt from Dero!

#walkbikeplaces #placemakingweek