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Fashion Weekend Edition: Sunday in the Park

Back in the good old days, people worked hard six days a week while Sunday was a sacred day of rest: worship in the morning, and socializing and relaxation in the afternoon. City parks were a favorite destination to see and be seen while on a stroll, a picnic or at a concert. That meant Sunday-best dresses, pearls and gloves for the ladies, ties and coats for the gents, and straw hats all around to protect delicate faces from the sun.

Sunday in the Park Portrait

On Sunday, September 21, we will be hosting a Sunday Soirée in San José with a city cruise and tea in St James Park, laid out in 1868 by Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s pioneer landscape architect. Come join us!

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 September 20, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Who You Callin’ Scofflaw? Sidewalk Cyclist

“Get on the sidewalk!” I don’t think there’s anyone who has ridden a bike on a city street or country road that hasn’t heard this one before. Most of the time the harasser is out of earshot if you yell back, “I have a right to the road.” And in all states in the US you do have the right to ride in the roadway just like vehicles with few exceptions, namely controlled-access highways, also known as freeways, interstates or motorways.

Of course, if you ride on the sidewalk, you’re just as likely get scolded with “Get OFF the sidewalk!” by people walking there, feeding yet again into the scofflaw cyclist image. You can’t win.

Claim: Scofflaw cyclists ride on sidewalks!

Whether it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk is not so clear. Most states, including California, Texas and New York, leave the decision to local jurisdictions. In San Francisco, it’s illegal for adults everywhere with a few notable exceptions. In my home city of Mountain View, it’s illegal for adults only in business districts. And in San Jose, it’s legal everywhere for all ages. So this man riding on the sidewalk in downtown San Jose is riding legally.

IMG_3527.JPG

To those who are ready to scroll down to the comment section and give me a keyboardful about the dangers of sidewalk cycling: please wait. Yes, bicycling on the sidewalk can be dangerous, both for the person on the bike and for people walking or standing on the sidewalk. But much of the danger comes with speed.

Drivers are looking for people moving at walking speed, not faster than running speeds. (That’s one reason why young children are usually allowed to bike on sidewalks) Ditto for people walking along the sidewalk or stepping out of buildings. Let’s hope our sidewalk-cycling guy only rides this close to storefronts that are boarded up.

Why do people ride on the sidewalk? Sometimes it’s for convenience or out of habit, but much of the time it’s because the sidewalk feels safer than the roadway. This man was riding along Santa Clara Street, which has four lanes of car traffic and parked cars on either side. I ride it occasionally, but it’s very stressful. There’s a bike lane on a parallel street 1/0 of a mile away, but the one-way streets leading there don’t have bike lanes either.

Assessment: The sidewalk-biking guy is not a scofflaw; he’s riding legally even if arguably unsafely.

As someone who has the choice to ride a bike or drive a car, I’m not going to judge people who may not have that choice. He was riding slowly and I saw him give a woman ample room when he passed. Besides, there are several places I ride on the sidewalk in San Jose. With roads like the one below, can you really blame me?

Have you been called a scofflaw for riding on a sidewalk? Were you riding legally? Are you sure?

riding-on-sidewalk

The City of San Jose is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 6pm at City Hall that includes discussion of a ban on sidewalk riding. If you live or work in San Jose, I encourage you to attend. All I ask is that you consider the needs of everyone who rides a bicycle, not just those with the skill, speed and courage to ride comfortably on any road, or the option to hop in the car where the roads are unforgiving.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Who You Callin' Scofflaw?

 

You’re Invited: A Sunday Soirée in Historic San José

You are cordially invited to a city cruise and garden tea on Sunday, September 21, 2014.
Bike tour rolls out from the Old Main Post Office on 105 N 1st Street, San José at 12:30 pm.
Tea at Two directly follows at 2:00 pm across 1st Street in St James Park.

Slip on your Sunday best and grab your most stylish bike for a slow cruise through some of San José’s most bikeable historic neighborhoods followed by tea in the park. We’ll begin with a spin in the Victorian Hensley District, roll through Japantown, then head off to turn-of-century Naglee Park, and finish with highlights in the heart of downtown. Along the way we’ll share San José’s largely untold, fascinating, and sometimes sordid history as we cruise along for 6-8 miles on lower-traffic city streets and new buffered and green bike lanes.

Straw Hat Selfie

We’ll end our tour with tea and cookies under the trees in St James Park, 19th-century San José’s central plaza. Whether you prefer hearty Irish Breakfast, delicate Chamomile, healthful Green, or exotic Chrysanthemum Pu-erh blend tea, we’ll have something for you. You’re also welcome to bring a blanket and a picnic lunch too.

The Sunday Soirée is just a small part of a bigger Bike Life Festival in St James Park where you’ll find all kinds of bike fun: unique bikes, workshops, skills demonstrations and a gear swap, plus music and bike-inspired art. For your bike’s safety, bike valet parking is available at the festival free of charge.

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014. Ride begins at 12:30 pm, Tea at 2:00 pm in St James Park
Where: Ride meets on steps of the US Post Office on 105 N 1st Street in downtown San José
Who: Anyone who is comfortable riding city streets at a cruising pace.

Please RSVP so we’ll bring enough tea and cookies for all. Many thanks to the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition for sponsoring this social event, and for working to make San José a better, more pleasant city for bicycling.

Tea at Two SJ Bike Life

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Events

 

Fashion Holiday Edition: Hard-Working Labor Day

During World War II in the Bay Area, they built Liberty ships. In Southern California, they built bomber aircraft. And where I’m from in Louisiana, they built the nimble landing craft that brought troops ashore on D-Day. Life isn’t always about pretty things. More often than not, it’s grit and grime that gets the job done.

Rosie the Riveter Portrait

In the United States, we honor the people who do the heavy lifting for hourly wages on Labor Day, the first Monday in September. The prosperity and well-being of our country relies on the strength of our workers.

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 September 1, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Who You Callin’ Scofflaw? Middle of the Road

The other day I learned that one of my neighbors works in downtown San Jose and often sees me riding my bike to work. As we chatted, my mind quickly traced where he likely sees me on my bike. More precisely, could he have seen me rolling through a stop sign, riding on a sidewalk, or otherwise being a “scofflaw cyclist?”

I fully admit that when there’s no other traffic around I don’t fully stop for stop signs and that’s illegal. But I’ve come to realize that there are many perfectly legal things people do when they’re riding bikes that “give cyclists a bad name.” Many people, including “avid cyclists” and law enforcement, don’t know the laws. So I’m launching “Who You Callin’ Scofflaw,” a series to test your knowledge and foster a lively, but civil, bicycle discussion.

Running Red Light

Disclaimer: These situations are based on California Vehicle Code. Roadway laws in your area may be different.

Claim: Scofflaw cyclists ride in the middle of the road!

Ask the average person and they’ll tell you that bikes must stay as far to the right as possible on the road. In any news story concerning bikes, there will be someone angrily citing CVC 20212, which begins “Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

middle-of-lane-door-zone1

What the finger-waggers fail to mention is the long list of exceptions to the code which include (1) if you’re riding the normal speed of traffic; (2) if you’re overtaking someone; (3) if you’re turning left or right at an intersection or driveway; (4) avoiding obstacles; or (5) if the lane is too narrow to safely ride a bike alongside a motor vehicle.

In this case, the lane is too narrow for a vehicle and bike to share safely (exception 5). The guy in the green jacket needs to stay at least 3 feet from the parked cars to avoid being hit by opening doors. He and his bike are about 3 feet wide. Drivers need a minimum of a 3 foot buffer to pass in car that’s up to 8 feet wide. Add it up and you need a 17 foot lane if there are parked cars (14 feet otherwise). This lane is not 17 feet wide.

Assessment: The guy in the green jacket is not a scofflaw; he’s riding safely and legally.

Have you been called a scofflaw for taking the lane like this guy? If so, by whom? Is it legal where you live?

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Old School Roadie Style

With a classic road bike in lugged steel, lycra simply won’t do. A color-blocked jersey and basic black shorts evoke memories of aspiring young racers breaking away on the backroads in the heyday of the 10-speed.

Vintage Jersey Portrait

The jersey hails from my husband’s bike club in Puerto Rico circa 1979, dug out of his closet along with Death Ride schwag from 1993. He rode all five passes on a Bridgestone RB-1 with 53/39 x 12-24 gearing. Ouch!

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 August 23, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

How to Fix a Flat in 10 Minutes Flat

“Are there thorns over here?” Lorri asked as we rolled on the dirt and gravel paths criss-crossing the Guadalupe River Trail. We had peeled off the San Jose Bike Party Ladies Ride and were searching for the rose garden on our way back to the train. I felt like a kid again, exploring the trails along Bayou Duplantier with my best friend Molly. Except this time Lorri and I were in dresses and heels. Momma never let me play in my Sunday best.

“Mmm, maybe,” I replied. Our fear wasn’t so much thorns in the rose garden, but the dreaded goathead thorns that sneak onto the path to take down the burliest of bike tires. After meandering a bit, we found the rose garden, took some fashion photos, and made it almost all the way to the train station before Lorri’s tire went flat. We scurried onto the train where Lorri went to work repairing the tire while I offered moral support.

Fixing Flat Main

By the time we reached Sunnyvale she was done. The conductor was impressed: “You fixed it already?”

“I’m a pro,” Lorri replied matter-of-factly. As founder of Velo Girls bike club and racing teams 10 years ago, Lorri has changed more than her share of bike tires. She’s also founder and owner of Savvy Bike, which offers skills clinics, coaching and bike fit services that go far beyond a simple flat tire repair (class calendar).

Here’s how Lorri fixes a flat, adapted from her Bike Skills 002: Basic Bicycle Maintenance class. For more detailed instructions and for complicated fixes like a gash in the tire’s sidewall, read the long version.

Don’t forget to clean your hands when you’re done! I keep tissue-sized rag in my repair kit just for that. A squirt of water on the rag, a little rubbing, and I’m good until I can soap up in a washroom. Momma would approve.

How confident are you in your bike repair skills? Do you have any favorite tips of the trade?

Lorri's new love is the 1979 Schwinn Suburban she picked up in Portland.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Gear Talk

 
 
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