RSS

Author Archives: ladyfleur

About ladyfleur

One woman. Many bicycles.

You’re Invited: Bright Lights, Bike City Cruise

You and your friends are invited to a holiday lights tour leading to “Bike Lights, Bike City”, the SVBC Winter Party, on Friday, December 6, 2013. Tour rolls out from the Caltrain Station in downtown Palo Alto at 5:45 pm.

The only thing better than riding down quiet neighborhood streets after dark is riding down streets where the neighbors have decked out their homes and yards for the winter holidays. It takes a pretty hard-hearted grinch to not to smile at shimmering lights brightening a dark sky on a chilly night. And there’s no better way to tour holiday lights than on a bicycle. Fast enough to cover the whole neighborhood, slow enough to take it all in, and easy enough to pull over and gaze in awe and snap photos. No flash required.

City Hall

The 4.4 mile city cruise will roll from Caltrain in downtown Palo Alto with a brief stop at Palo Alto City Hall to see Aurora, a life-size metal and electronic Weeping Willow tree sculpture that is now gracing City Hall Plaza. From there, we’ll cruise down the Bryant Street Bike Boulevard through Professorville and Old Palo Alto.

After a turnaround in Midtown we’ll head back up to the historic Lucie Stern Center where we’ll join Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition members for “Bike Lights, Bike City,” their annual Winter Party. We’ll celebrate the season with delicious food and refreshing beverages, make a play on hot auction items. Then we’ll turn down the lights, turn up the music, and dance under disco lights until they kick us out.

Start: The Palo Alto Caltrain station at 5:45 PM, timed for Caltrain #375 and #370 train arrivals. Meet near the bike lockers near Alma Street and Lytton Avenue.
Route: 4.4 miles on quiet streets with no hills. See map below for details. Contact me for mid-ride meet-ups.
Please Bring: Bike lights! The more the better. Show off your amazing bike lights. And warm clothes, too.
RSVP: Please RSVP for the Winter Party through the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, our event sponsor.

The SVBC Winter Party is a members-only affair. If you’re not a member, or need to renew, you can sign up when you RSVP for the event or at the door. At only $20/person, it’s a fun way to support a great cause.

Click on the thumbtacks on the map to see the holiday lights display locations.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Around Town

 

Anything Goes Challenge: Leah, SPURred by Options

You may recognize Leah from a Fashion Friday photos I shot the day I rode with her on her first Bay Area Bike Share commute just after the system launched last summer. As the Director of SPUR San Jose, Leah works in San Jose four days a week and spends the fifth day at SPUR headquarters 50 miles away in San Franscisco. As an urbanist she defaults to non-driving travel and she’s fortunate to have many transit and bike options available. That makes her Anything Goes Commute Challenge all the more interesting. This is her story.

When Janet asked me to capture not only my commute modes to and from work, but my decision process for each mode, I was anxious to oblige. I had been meaning to see if the data backed up my first choice, my bicycle. As a long time bike lover, it’s my default mode of transportation if given an option. But is it really the most effective? And so here goes – a data comparison of the top ways I can get to work.

Leah in Office

I live two miles from the SPUR office in San Jose. My commute streets are laid out in a straight-forward, flat grid pattern, beginning in Japantown and ending in downtown San Jose. I travel this commute four days a week and head to our office in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena district one day a week.

This October I set out to find out which of my various commutes took the most time, money, energy, planning, etc. And like those combination math problems in middle school, I took to testing the options and used simple parameters: door to door time, ease of travel, cost. Here are the options for my San Jose commute:

Bike (my own)
There are several connecting bike lanes along Third and Fourth Street and low auto traffic speeds that make it particularly easy to commute by bike. We also have a bike rack outside of our office so I can lock up securely.

San Jose Protected Bike Lanes

Walk + VTA Light Rail + Walk
The Light Rail Stations near work are on the same block as our office, which make arrival to and departure from work very convenient. I’m only three stops from work from where I get on at Civic Center and from there it’s about a 10 minute walk home from the station. This works best when I am looking for a walking start and finish to the day, but I need to pay more attention to time in order to catch the train when I arrive at the station and weight/amount of material I need to take to work with me (i.e. carry).

Light Rail

Walk + Bike Share + Walk
The closest bike share station to my house is in Japantown and the closest station to work is at City Hall. Getting to and from this option require upwards of 15 minutes of walking, but the bike share bikes are great with an upright position and place for my bag in front.

Leah Bike Share Bike

Drive
My car commute is a pretty straight forward two mile drive with low traffic. Early bird (arrival before 9:45am) parking at the garage across the street from my office costs $8 for the day.

20131125-092926.jpg

First consideration for commute choice begins with how I organize my calendar. I make a point to coordinate my work meetings and personal errand running to the following criteria (as much as possible):

  • Schedule as many meetings as possible within walking distance of the office so that I don’t have to drive. Aim for this 3-4 days a week.
  • Schedule meetings that require car travel all on the same day. Typically, meetings outside of downtown San Jose or more than 1-2 Light Rail stops away default to driving to maximize efficiency (and because there is rarely a parking cost on the other end of meetings).
  • On days that require car travel, plan errand running (dry cleaners, grocery shopping, ‘big’/bulk shopping, etc) on the same day.

Second consideration with commute choice is weather. Unless it’s raining or aiming to be 90 degrees, I’ll choose not to drive. Otherwise, with such flat terrain and short distance, it’s easy to walk, bike or take transit. Third consideration is time. What is the quickest way I can get where I need to go and how can I travel most efficiently between meetings? Fourth consideration is money. How much will it cost in work time (driving vs. Caltrain), gas and parking vs. the alternatives.

There are other considerations that pop in and out and impact my mode decision (if I need to move things in and out of the office, if I feel at all under the weather, if my bike is out of commission (or stolen…it’s happened), if my work day will go very late, etc), but these are the less frequent occasions.

San Jose Commute

The options for my San Francisco commute are to ride my bike to Caltrain San Jose station, take it aboard and bike to the SPUR headquarters in San Francisco, or drive to Caltrain and walk from the San Francisco station to the office, or drive and pay for garage parking.

Caltrain Night

San Francisco Commute

The Upshot: What I didn’t add above were the other benefits that come with each mode. With any mode except the car, there is exercise, time outdoors and in my neighborhood, taking a car and its CO2 emissions off the road and usually the opportunity to discover something new along the route. But with the car comes a slightly faster commute, complete independence and, at $8 a day for parking, not a terribly expensive option, especially for one day a week. Adding that up over time though would equate to a great deal of cash and it’s quickly the lease desirable option by virtue of cost. And so my winning option is – bike commute!

Leah BIke crop

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 2, 2013 in Anything Goes

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Sunday Matinee

When you’re too pooped for a Saturday night at the movies, the best thing to do is sleep in and then hit the Sunday matinee. An easy fitting cotton knit dress, contrast tights and clog-inspired heels are just dressy enough to feel like a date and comfy enough for settling into a double feature.

Weekend Dress

My favorite brown summer dress, recast for Fall with 3/4 length sleeves and a floral accent on the skirt.

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Farm to Table to Happy Belly in Napa Valley

It’s Thanksgiving morning here in the US, and Dick and I will be celebrating with a fine feast like every red-blooded American. Since we’re up in Napa Valley celebrating Dick’s birthday, I’ll be spared the cooking and we’ll go out for our feast. Dick will certainly have the traditional turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. I may vary from the traditional script, who knows?

What I do know is that our dinner can’t possible top the “farm to table” dining experience we had at JoLē in Calistoga for Dick’s birthday the other night. Three courses chosen from a list of about a dozen plus dessert, with wine pairings for each course carefully selected by their sommelier. It was divine decadence.

Dick Birthday

With four courses of wine, thank goodness it wasn’t a bike date. We only had to stumble upstairs to our room.

Of course, a meal expertly prepared with quality local ingredients and paired with exceptional wines doesn’t come cheap. It was the most expensive dinner we’ve shared and we aren’t particularly frugal on our weekly bike dates. But why not, birthdays only come once a year and none of us is getting any younger.

What was the best meal you’ve ever shared? What made it exceptional?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Bike Date, Other Stuff

 

Bike Commute Diaries: One Step Forward

One day you’re flying high seeing bold green lanes installed on a major east-west bike route. The next you discover a bike lane on a high-speed north-south boulevard is being quietly rubbed out. You ride the green lane and you’re bullied by a bus into the coned-off area before the paint is dry. Where the paint is dry, there’s a car stopped and waiting in the green lane for no obvious reason and you have to merge back with the buses.

One step forward, how many steps back? It’s hard not to get discouraged sometimes.

San Fernando Green Lane

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about bicycling for transportation.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Fashion Friday: Preserving the Planet in Style

For most of us, it’s the little things we do to tread lightly on the environment: installing low-flow shower heads, turning down the thermostat, bringing a reusable cup to the coffee shop and buying locally grown fruits and vegetables. Then there are the dedicated few who take it to the highest level as professionals, guiding the public, industry and businesses on sustainable practices. But who knew environmentalists had such style?

Juliana Wide
Her skirt is narrow and her boot heels are tall, but that didn’t get in the way of Julie’s bike + train business travel to San Jose to the speak at the Trash Summit. We met in the bike car on her Caltrain ride down from San Francisco. Julie needed some help navigating the fare system, and then navigating her way across downtown to the convention center. What she didn’t need was any style tips from anyone. I want that plaid blazer!

Fast forward a week and it’s déjà vu all over again on Caltrain where I met Rebecca who works for San Jose’s Department of Environmental Services. With a commute that goes from foggy San Francisco to sunny San Jose, layers work well. A bold print scarf over a long-sleeved knit top, over a wrap dress, over yoga pants and she’s ready for anything, including stretching out with a downward-facing dog pose on her train ride home.

Rebecca Wide

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Make It Your Own: Jessica’s Custom Trike Crate

Jessica’s grandfather must be proud of her. A German immigrant who made his living as a cabinet maker, he knows the satisfaction of sawing, nailing and sanding to build something practical and attractive using his own two hands. I know I was impressed by the cargo crate she built for her trike. It seems the basket that came with her trike didn’t meet the standards of a craftsman’s granddaughter so she hand-built herself a new one.

Portrait

Jessica built the custom crate because the original basket wasn’t big enough or sturdy enough for everything she wanted to carry, like groceries, gardening supplies, and most importantly hay and feed for her bunnies.

Location: Horace Mann neighborhood, Downtown San Jose, California, USA.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Gear Talk

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Bike Lanes That Stink in San Jose

There’s something rotten about the bike lanes in San Jose’s Hensley district. Every Monday morning the hard-won, lovely wide bike lanes are taken over by garbage bins. City of San Jose, please clean up your act! The comfort and safety of people riding bikes should rate higher than what you send off to the dump.

Stream of Traffic Wide

Location: N 3rd Street near E Empire Street, San Jose, California, USA.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Fashion Friday: Little Black Dress Once Again

A girl can never have too many little black dresses, can she? This long-sleeved lovely is the cool-weather complement to my sleeveless summer favorite. Dress it up, dress it down and accessorize for the occasion. That’s what makes the little black dress a classic in any season.

Knit Dress

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

A Ride 2 Recovery, a Ride to Transformation

For most of us, the challenges of bicycling lead to growth as cyclists: climbing that long and steep grade to bag a peak, staying balanced and pedaling on through a technical section of trail, taking a deep breath and merging into traffic on a busy road. But for some, bicycling takes them beyond growth and into transformation.

For the men and women who serve in armed forces, being strong and capable–physically, mentally and emotionally–to meet the challenges of battle is core to not only their job, but to their identity. To be wounded and permanently lose capabilities is a life crisis for anyone. For warriors, the wounds can run much deeper.

Through cycling, Ride 2 Recovery “makes a difference in the lives of healing heroes by providing life changing experiences that can help speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process.” A few weeks ago, one of their challenge rides came through my area. I rolled out early to see them off on their 450 mile ride from the Bay Area to Los Angeles County. It was awe-inspiring to see these wounded warriors on their amazing adaptive bicycles.

Wounded Warrior 2 short

Ride 2 Recovery designs and builds custom adaptive bikes that it make it possible for almost any injured veteran to participate in the program, including para- and quadriplegics and multiple-limb amputees. The bikes allow them to move under their own power to challenge themselves physically. The ride challenge program allows them to set individual goals while working in a group, and also helps them accept help when needed.

Low Rider Curb Drop

Out of respect for their privacy, I didn’t talk to any of the injured veterans about their challenges: why they decided to do it, what were the biggest hurdles, how it’s changed them so far, what’s next for them. But we don’t need to know the details, do we? Even as outsiders we can imagine it was physically and emotionally hard every step of the way, and that the rewards are boundless, and that the experience is transformative.

I cannot imagine that these wounded warriors see themselves in quite the same way after learning to ride a bike again as a double above-the-knee amputee or after being blinded–or both.

I was honored to have the opportunity to see them gather for the start of their 7-day challenge, and was humbled as I struggled to catch the group after it sped down Foothill Expressway. After seven miles I finally caught them, only to silently bid them adieu and wish them farewell on their long journey south.

What were your biggest challenges in bicycling? Has bicycling fundamentally changed your understanding of self, your beliefs, your life? Has bicycling been transformative for you?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 12, 2013 in Backroads

 
 
Shop by Bike

How and where to shop by bike in Silicon Valley, California

The Empowerment of the Silent Sisterhood

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Fix The Toaster

Nearly 32,000 Americans die in car crashes annually. 80% of car crashes are PREVENTABLE. If the TOASTER was killing that many people we'd think it was ridiculous. We'd un-plug it and say, let's Fix The Toaster.

chasing mailboxes d.c.

bicycling, brevets, and the occasional marathon

Urban Adventure League

Exploring the urban environment through fun human-powered adventures, riding bicycles, and gawking at bicycles in and around Portland, Oregon, Cascadia

CARDBOARD BOX OFFICE

A world of film, a house of stuff.

Wanderlust

Exploring Europe by water

Ride On

Australia's most widely-read bike magazine

Bayou Woman

Life in the Louisiana Wetlands

articulate discontent

a look at societal and economic influences on human systems.

Pedal All Day

Endurance Cycle for Macular Disease

sistersthatbeenthere

Just another WordPress.com site

Gas station without pumps

musings on life as a university professor

wife. mother. awesome girl.

Just another girl who used to be cool.

Why Bike

Tackling The Reasons You Don't Bike

Save Fabers Project

Save San Jose's Famed Faber's Bicycle Shop

Prima Cyclorina

Just another blog about bikes

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,624 other followers

%d bloggers like this: