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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Fashion Friday: Something Old, Something New

When it comes to our wardrobes, most of us play favorites. We pull the same things out of our closets day after day, and rue the day they wear out. I’ve loved everything about this knit dress for over five years: the slit neckline and cap sleeves, the empire waist and A-line skirt in a flattering print. How much longer will it last?

Black & White Dress

It was sad to retire my go-to shoes for this dress: closed toe Mary Jane heels. But I love my new wedge heels.

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 May 31, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Spotting: Caution! Looooooong Load

My friend Irene saw a side-by-side tandem recumbent trike pulling another recumbent trike pulling a baby trailer pulling a flatbed trailer. The rig was carrying two garbage bags of who-knows-what plus something that looks like foam mattresses and more. It’s a good thing Irene had a camera. No one would believe her otherwise.

Maxi Trailer

Location: Palo Alto City Hall. Click here to see the photo at maximum resolution.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Bike Gallery

 

Why I Can’t Wait for Bike Share in San Francisco

New York City’s Citi Bike bike share program opened today with huge fanfare from supporters and grumbling from skeptics. With over 15,000 new annual members already subscribed at $95 a pop, I’d say the program is off to an amazing start of the most ambitious roll-out stateside of a bike share: 6,000 bikes in 300 stations.

While most of the skeptics are people who don’t want to lose valuable parking spots to bikes docking stations, some are cyclists who can’t see themselves riding bikes that are 45 pounds of clunky slowness, and who don’t look forward to navigating the crowded streets of NYC with a bunch of newbies on bikes. What’s in it for them?

Plenty. Susi Wunch gave some good reasons for cyclist to use bike share: for riding on spontaneous trips, for riding with non-cyclist friends and out-of-town guests, and for riding that last mile in areas not well served by transit. David Byrne, lead singer of Talking Heads and NYC bike advocate, adds that they’ll be convenient when it rains and you don’t want to take out your own bike and leave it in the wet.

But both missed one important reason for using bike share vs your own bike, which Dick and I learned the hard way in San Francisco today. Here’s a hint: What’s missing in this picture?

20130527-190946.jpg

Yep, someone stole the saddles off our bike while they were parked outside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art today. We wanted to catch China’s Terra Cotta Warriors at the Asian Art Museum before they closed today and to see the Gerry Winogrand photography exhibit before SF MOMA closes for 2.5 years next weekend.

I was worried about parking our bikes at the Asian Art Museum since it’s near City Hall in the notorious Mid-Market/Tenderloin neighborhood. But it was in the more respectable SOMA where we lost our saddles. We U-locked our bike frames to sturdy racks, ran cable locks through our front and back wheels. As I walked away, I was pleased that we brought our saddle covers that not only would protect our high-end Brooks B17 and Selle Anatomica saddles from the threatening rain, but also disguise them as more ordinary saddles. It didn’t work.

Unlike NYC, San Francisco’s planned bike share is far more modest at only 35 stations vs 300 stations. The SF program has been criticized for not going big enough, and that may limit its success indeed. But it would have worked for us today. We made four stops in the city today and each had a bike station within a few hundred feet.

SF Bikeshare Map

We could have grabbed a SF bike at Caltrain station, ridden to the Ferry Building and docked it while we ate breakfast, then grabbed another SF bike for the trip to the Asian Art Museum. Ditto for the SF MOMA and then back to Caltrain. We could have taken four bikes for four trips and all for no more than the basic membership fee since all trips were within 30 minutes riding time. (That’s close to what we did in Paris on the Velib bikes)

But most important: our personal bikes would have been safe from cruel bike thieves.

We didn’t have much time to recover from the shock of our bikes’ violation. We had a train to catch! Riding out of the saddle across the pothole-infested South of Market section of downtown San Francisco for the mile back to the Caltrain station, and then another mile to get home from Caltrain in Mountain View is not a trip I care to repeat. Lessons learned: you can’t safely use hand signals out of the saddle, potholes are more dangerous, and my ankles get tired faster than my thighs. I’m glad I was wearing sensible flats instead of heels.

Now we’re left assessing the damage and scraping up replacement parts. Two seatposts, two saddles, two saddle rain covers, two seat packs with multitools, spare tube and patch kits, and a tailight on Dick’s bike. Dick doesn’t want to add up the total cost of our loss but I’m guessing it’s between $500 and $800.

Have you ever had something stolen off your bike? Or even your whole bike? Did it change how you locked your bike or where you parked it?

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Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Around Town

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Play Clothes

When my oldest sister Susan was a little girl, she suddenly decided she wouldn’t wear shorts or pants anymore, only dresses. So my mother went straight to her sewing machine and whipped up a set of play dresses. I think little Susan was on to something. This loose-fitting cotton dress has become my go-to outfit for kicking around town on the weekend: easy to throw on, comfortable and girlishly feminine with a sporty twist.

Weekend Fun

We took these photos for Bike Fun with Dick and Janet, a new blog I’m writing for the Mountain View Voice.

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 May 26, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Anything Goes Challenge: Megan & I Take the Bus

Megan lives within 10 miles of me in Silicon Valley but I’ve never met her. Her challenge: getting to a medical appointment two cities away without driving or biking after surgery. For her entry into the Anything Goes Commute Challenge, she compares hitching a ride with a friend vs taking the bus. This is her story.

Because of recent surgery, I can’t drive my car or ride a bike for a few weeks. I needed to get to the medical clinic for some tests and I considered taking a friend up on her offer of helping me during my convalescence, but it just didn’t seem right to ask her to drive a total of about 40 miles just to get me to the clinic that is only seven miles from my house. My solution was to get a family member to drive me to the clinic then take the bus home.

Driving to the clinic:
Driving during Monday morning commute traffic using mostly Central Expressway and Evelyn Avenue took 30 minutes. Cost: It’s hard to analyze. My best guess is $2 to travel seven miles. [Editor's note: US federal reimbursement rate is 56.5 cents/mile so I'm estimating it at $3.95]

Rush Hour Expressway Traffic

Transit home from clinic: The return trip home took 58 minutes by walking and taking the VTA 22 bus. Considering the fact that the return trip from the clinic was during mid-morning which meant that the local bus that I transferred to from the 22 was running only every 30 minutes, I think that only 58 minutes to return home was not too bad. If I had taken the 522 Rapid bus, I probably could have traveled home even faster.

Cost: $4 ($2 for each leg of trip home). Note to self: figure out how to buy a day pass using the Clipper card.

No Bus Lane

LadyFleur had recently mentioned using an iPhone app for the VTA bus routes so I checked it out then bought it while at the clinic when I was between appointments. After using the SJ Transit app for this morning’s trip, I find that I really like it. It helps me overcome my hesitation to using the VTA bus system to get places since I don’t always have a paper schedule with me. Frankly, the paper schedules were harder for me to use than this app.

Bus Map vs Bus App

The Clipper card is another innovation that has helped me get out of my car and on to the bus. As an infrequent bus rider, it was always hard to make sure I had exact change for a bus trip. Scanning a Clipper card is much easier than digging around in my purse for $2.

Sorry, but while juggling my iPhone, checking the timer on my phone, checking the SJ Transit app for route info and watching for my bus stop, I didn’t take any photos.

Megan

Never fear, Megan, I took your bus challenge and snapped some photos on the trip. After digging up my old transit maps I realized it had been almost 20 years since I’d ridden the bus! Thanks for getting me back on the bus, and even more for taking the Anything Goes Commute Challenge.

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Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Anything Goes

 

Anything Goes Challenge: Frank Crosses the Border

When most people think of bike commuters in the Netherlands, they imagine dressed-up people riding upright Dutch bikes rolling short distances along on cyclepaths in compact city centers. While many Dutch commuters do fit this mold, there are others like Frank, whose commute is roughly 20 miles, a distance that’s more typical for suburban America. But his Anything Goes Commute Challenge is hardly American. This is his story.

Since February 19th this year, I’ve started a new job which offered a new commuting challenge, riding 60 km (37 mi) per day instead of 21 km (13 mi). But as cycling is my main hobby, I took on the challenge and started out with at least three or four times per week cycling to work.

My daily trip takes me from the Netherlands to Belgium. As soon as I cross the border a significant change in road maintenance becomes painfully clear. Roads in Belgium are very much in worse state then in the Netherlands, especially the secondary roads. [Editor's note: The well-kept road below must be Dutch.]

Cycle Path

Based on this, driving by car would be the most obvious option, but after finding my definitive route I still prefer to take the trip by bike. Not because of the costs or the compensation, but because of these advantages:

  • Almost 3,5 hours relaxing work-out, clearing my mind while listening to my favourite music
  • I arrive more “mentally fresh” by bike than by car
  • The 2,5 km ride through the woods is beautiful in any season and I consider it an extra bonus for my efforts

Tree Path

Another, more medical, reason for commuting by bike is the fact that my doctor suspects I’m narcoleptic, so cycling is a bit safer for me than driving a car.

The disadvantages of doing this commute by bike I find are:

  • I start work between 5:30 and 6:00 am, so every day I have to get up at 3:00 am. :-\
  • The prevalent wind direction is southwest, so every day on my way home I’ve got to face headwind.
  • Depending on the weather conditions, the trip can take up to two hours.

Driving to Work

The advantages of driving by car are straightforward. It’s quick and dry. The disadvantages of driving by car are that it’s a boring trip with lots of speed bumps. It’s a longer distance that can be stressful during rush hour.

My personal score card of this commute:

Anything Goes Frank

The compensation is a government ruling in Belgium which is paid through my salary. That’s one advantage of working for a Belgian employer. Here in the Netherlands the compensation is much less.

Note that I don’t have to pack clothing due to the nature of my job and I pass three shops along the way and always carry panniers, so (some) shopping is no problem. Also, in the village where our company is located are several options to go for lunch, even in work clothes (it’s easy, people).

Personally, I don’t think my ride time by bicycle is wasted time as I work out and relax. I really found this challenge a very good idea and I liked it lot. Hope you can come up with more of these ideas!

Dutch greetings and safe riding, Frank.

Thanks, Frank, for participating in the Anything Goes Commute Challenge, and for not letting a longer, earlier morning commute with a tough headwind keep you off the bike!

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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Anything Goes

 

Fashion Friday: Wrapped in Confidence

In an interview during a product launch enhanced by flash mobs of young women chanting “Be the woman you want to be!” and dancing by the Eiffel Tower, Diane von Furstenberg said, “My mission is to empower women to feel beautiful and secure and confident. Because when you are confident you are beautiful.”

No wonder her iconic wrap dress has been embraced by women of all ages, shapes and sizes for over 40 years, including me. I’m always confident in my wrap knit dresses, on or off the bike. Mission accomplished, Diane!

Wrap Dress

P.S. Diane, sign me up to dance in your flash mob at your next launch. I’ll even fly to Paris for it.

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 May 17, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 
 
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