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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Fashion Friday: All Star Dad

It’s a blast from the past for a Father’s Day picnic. Dick sports a Coast Guard jersey from back in the day when he patrolled the Oregon Coast, plus Chuck Taylor All Stars just like those he wore for high school basketball.

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The Bike: 2006 Lemond Fillmore single speed outfitted with flat bars and a Selle Anotomica saddle.

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.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

What Makes a Bike a City Bike?

Maybe it’s the warm weather or the long days, but in the last month I’ve had more requests from friends about city bikes: What should I look for? Which bikes do you recommend? Where should I go to buy one? Considering these questions came from experienced road racers that taught me bike skills over the years, I was flattered.

Before I can answer what bikes I recommend or where to find one, let’s start with the basics: Just what makes a bike a city bike anyway? First, a city bike is designed for cross-town trips in street clothes–you’ll hop on and pedal away. City bikes are not about riding your fastest or getting a workout. They’re about getting from point A to point B with minimal preparation. City bikes are about dressing for the destination, not the ride.

This means that city bikes have details that performance bicycles–both road and dirt–don’t have, either because they add weight or get in the way when you’re hucking off a boulder. First on the list are flat pedals. How can you hop on and go if you have to change shoes or clack around in shoes that have cleats at your destination?

Next is a basket or rack to carry your briefcase, your groceries, your purse or your jacket. If you carry things on your bike, you’ll want a kickstand. It’s too much work to balance the bike when you’re loading gear. And city bikes have upright geometries, so you can relax as you pedal and have a clear view of the city around you.

A good city bike also comes with handy features that few bikes for sale in North America offer:

  • Fenders: if you want to ride in the rain or after a rain
  • Front and rear lights: if you want to ride after dark
  • Chain guard: if you want to ride in pants
  • Step-through frame: if you want to ride in a dress
  • Bell: if you want to ride on paths shared with walkers

It’s interesting to me that most of these features were standard on American bikes until the 1970s when 10-speed bicycles pushed the industry toward racing-style performance at the expense of all-around usefulness, comfort and just plain fun. I don’t know why the market couldn’t support both. I know my garage does.

What do you appreciate most about your city bike? If you don’t have a city bike, what city bike feature do you wish your bike had?

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Around Town, Gear Talk

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Business Suit on a Scooter

Bikes weren’t the only two wheeled transport on the Guadalupe River Trail today. This man in a handsome suit with a nice leather briefcase was riding his electric scooter. It’s a fast and easy way for him to get from the Caltrain station to his job on Hedding Street, even on days like today when his battery is low on charge.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Commute Diaries

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Door Zone Sharrows in San Jose

The bike route to the hospital is striped with good intentions. Bike lanes that suddenly disappear mid-block. The bike path that blindly crosses a busy road. Sharrows that guide you perfectly into the door zone. Like an ugly sweater from your Aunt Edna, you know they’re trying to please you. But it’s something you really can’t use.

Location: North 7th Street just north of Taylor Street in San Jose, California

What are Sharrows?Shared Roadway Bicycle Markings are intended to help bicyclists position themselves away from parked cars to avoid being struck by suddenly opened car doors, and to alert other road users to expect bicyclists to occupy travel lanes.” That’s the exact opposite of what these sharrows are doing.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

A Closer Look: 1986 Pro Miyata Road Bike

If it weren’t for this 1986 Miyata Pro road bike, I might never have found my true love. Five years after my ex abandoned this classic lugged steel bike in my garage, he gladly agreed to give it to my nephew. That meant boxing and shipping it to Louisiana, something I had no idea how to do on my own.

“Go to Chain Reaction and ask for Dick,” my friend Tammy said. There I met a man so intriguing I kept coming back for no real reason. After a weeks of engaging banter he asked me out for a bike ride. Our first bike date rolled us to bigger adventures: love, marriage and more bicycles. But this one holds a special place in my heart.


Builder of Japan’s first modern bicycle in 1892, vintage Miyata bicycles are known for their workmanship.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Bike Gallery

 

Fashion Friday: Fishnets, Baubles and Bows

Who says bold prints require understated accessories? The fishnet stockings, chunky bauble jewelry and feminine bow-tie shoes sing in four-part harmony with the bold print of my prAna knit dress.

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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Cycle Fashions

 

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Golden Wheels of Change

“From the air, streets are the largest public space in our cities. Are streets for cars or can they build community?” So began Gil Peñalosa, the keynote speaker at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Golden Wheel Awards. “As the city’s most valuable asset, officials must choose: streets for cars or streets for people.”

I had read how Gil Peñalosa and other city officials in Bogotá, Colombia had improved the lives of residents by building walking and bicycling paths, even in neighborhoods without paved streets. “It’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of priorities,” he said. So I had to attend the Golden Wheel awards ceremony to hear him speak. And how could I resist an opportunity to dress up and ride my bike, and hang out with like-minded bicyclists?

Dick and I hopped on the baby bullet Caltrain and rode two short miles across the heart of San Francisco to the War Memorial Opera House for our first Golden Wheel Awards benefit. We had never ridden in San Francisco’s rush hour traffic before. But because of the bike lanes that the SFBC lobbied the city hard to create, we arrived comfortably and on time. At the War Memorial, volunteers valet parked our bikes right out front.

Even though we don’t live in San Francisco, Dick and I have been members of the SFBC for years. I’ve always admired their belief that cycling should be for everyone from 8 to 80, and appreciated their hard work to make it happen. And it shows. Twenty years ago when they held their first Golden Wheels Awards, the award was given to a downtown building owner who put a single bike rack in their garage.

This year they honored BOMA, the city’s building managers’ association, who wholeheartedly supported legislation that prohibits building owners from banning bicycles from their buildings, as well as Lower 24th Street Merchants & Neighbors Association for their support of the Sunday Streets program. And five of the San Francisco’s 11 supervisors attended the Golden Awards event. That’s progress.

In his address, Peñalosa stated that cities should be built primarily around pedestrians, but very close to the pedestrians are cyclists. To him, cycling is just a more efficient way of walking. “When we build bicycle infrastructure, it shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally as important to one in a $30,000 car.”

What does “streets for people” mean to you? Would you be willing to drive slower on city streets so that others can walk or ride more comfortably? Would you be willing to ride your bicycle slower in busy pedestrian areas?

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Issues & Infrastructure

 

Bike Commute Diaries: All Aboard!

My bike alone can only take me so far so fast. But when I take my bike on Caltrain my 10 mile cruising range grows to a 50 mile corridor from San Francisco to San Jose. I’m not alone: one in 10 Caltrain riders brings a bike aboard. Some days it seems like all 4,200+ daily commuters are getting on my fast “baby bullet” train.

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.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Commute Diaries

 

The Remembering Tree on the Bike Boulevard

Last Monday was Memorial Day, a day where Americans honor those who died for their country in military service. I am a pacifist. I hate the violence and the response to violence that escalates into war. Still, today I am wearing a dog tag for a solider I never knew. His name was Steven Bridges, a 33 year old father of four who died just a few days after he arrived to fight in Iraq.

While I have plenty of military veterans in my family, from my grandfathers to my dear husband to my nephew in active service in the Air Force, I’ve been fortunate that they all survived their tours of duty. Memorial Day only became personal when I stopped at those ever-blooming trees on the Bryant Street bike boulevard.

As I rolled up, I wondered if the trees that guard a car-free block were still decorated. Where were the perky bright spring colors? Then I saw the flags and on closer look the white peace doves in the trees. Finally, I saw the dog tags and accepted my mission: honoring a man who fought for his country and paid the ultimate price.

Have you ever been moved to honor someone you’ve never met? Who are your heroes?

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Around Town

 

Arrive by Bike: Street Fairs and Festivals

With June upon us, we’ve entered a new season: festival season. Where we live, it seems like every suburban city has an Art & Wine festival and there’s a festival for every rural town’s pride and joy, from artichokes to pumpkins to garlic. These festivals draw huge crowds and are wildly popular with everyone. Except me, that is.

Between the huge crowds, the predictable crafts and the overpriced food, I’d usually rather stay home. But this weekend there were three festivals that piqued my interest, so I hopped on my bike and went for it. Dick came along for two of them. He’s surprisingly a bigger fan of street fairs than I am.

I survived the weekend with enough energy to bang out this blog post. What I learned: festivals are a lot more fun when you arrive by bike. You avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the long walk from the parking area or the long wait for the shuttle buses. You just roll right up, lock up and you are in on the action.

Are you a fan of street festivals? What draws you there: the food, the music, the arts and crafts? Which ones are on your “do not miss” list for the season?

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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Around Town

 
 
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