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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fashion Friday: The Green Lane to Success

Red may be the power tie color for businessmen, but when you’re the head of the San Jose Department of Transportation, green is the power color to wear as you pave the way to better bicycling in California’s 3rd largest city. A suit doesn’t keep a pro like Hans from getting in on the action. With a roll of the cuff on the bike and a hard hat and high-viz vest for laying paint, Hans stays photo-op ready for his department’s day in the sun.

Hans Larsen

The first of San Jose’s green lane projects, the Hedding Street bike lane will be a major east-west bikeway.

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 28, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

The Rail + Bike Commuter Capital of the Bay Area

Move over, San Francisco. Close, but not quite, Oakland. San Jose has you beat when it comes to flexible commuter train options. “How could this be?” you say. “There’s no BART in San Jose.” True, BART connects many cities in Bay Area: San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Fremont, Concord and Pleasanton.

But there are three heavy rail lines and a light rail line that run out of San Jose’s Didiron Station, and all allow bikes on board, something that BART has only been testing during commute hours. And BART doesn’t dedicate space for bicycles, it just allows bikes to ride if space is available (and BART workers aren’t on strike).

Diridon Trains

But the real story isn’t the number of train lines anyway, it’s how many places and how far you and your bike can go from downtown San Jose: San Francisco, Oakland, Gilroy, Stockton and Sacramento, plus frequent bus service to Santa Cruz and light rail that span San Jose from bay to hills. All these trains and buses allow bikes during rush hour and dedicate space just for bikes.

What this means for bike commuters became very obvious one day when I was riding home on the Guadalupe River Trail. Up rolled my buddy Richard of Cyclelicious with another rider. We were all headed to Diridon Station: me to take Caltrain up the Peninsula to Mountain View, Richard to take the Santa Cruz Metro bus over the hills to Scotts Valley, and his friend to take the Amtrak Capitol Corridor to Oakland. Three long distance commutes made more manageable by bikes on board programs on three transit lines radiating from downtown San Jose. Maybe next time we’ll meet a rider headed for the ACE Rail to Livermore or Stockton.

Have you taken a bike on a bus or train before? How far did you go? How convenient was it?

Happy Trails to You

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Around Town, Issues & Infrastructure

 

Fashion Friday: A Winning Combination on Winona

Warm in the sun and little cool in the shade. Here in sunny California, you need an outfit than lets you roll along in comfort all day. Winona pairs a black and white sleeveless sheath with a hot pink bolero that can take her from shopping errands to a happy hour with fellow SVBC bike advocates to home after dark.

Winona on Castro St

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 21, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Rack SUCCESS! About-Face at Mollie Stone’s

You see these bike racks at Mollie Stone’s Market? They’re lovely, aren’t they? They’re right next to the main entrance so they’re easy to find, and they’re sturdy ones that let you lock the frame, not just a wheel. The store owners obviously value bicyclists as customers, right? Yes, they do. But it wasn’t always this way.

Most shoppers were set up with racks that hold two bags of groceries.

Mollie Stone’s Market is located in the California Avenue business district in Palo Alto, a three block long, four lane street that’s been slated for a street makeover for years. The plan includes reducing it from four to two lanes with left turn lanes and bike lanes, but no reduction in street parking. Merchants feared the worst: “Traffic will be terrible!” “How will our customers get to our stores?” “Bikes are bad for business.”

That’s pretty much what a Mollie Stone’s co-owner said at a city council meeting. He even threatened that removing lanes could mean closing his store, an anchor for the business district.

What the co-owner didn’t count on was the reaction of his staff, who took him to task telling him how many of the store’s customers arrived by bike. He got the message and contacted volunteers at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition‘s Palo Alto local team who advised him on what customers who arrive by bike want and need. The result was top tier bike parking and a steady stream of happy bike-riding customers.

The owner is now an advocate for bicycles to local businesses. In a press release co-owner David Bennett stated: “As more Palo Alto residents get around on their bikes, it’s vital that we have the infrastructure in place to support them. We wanted to make sure that we had the ideal setup, so we implemented all of the SVBC’s recommendations. We’re very excited to offer these additional racks to our Palo Alto community.”

Thank you Adina, Andrew, the rest of the Palo Alto team and SVBC for supporting everyday bicycling!

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Location: Mollie Stone’s Market, 164 S. California Avenue at Park Blvd, Palo Alto, California, USA

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

My Father, My Hero on Two Wheels

Last night I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. He’s a big talker in person, but on the phone? Not so much. But this time he had a very important question: his bike saddle isn’t comfortable anymore, what kind do I recommend? I don’t think he was satisfied with my answer, which was to take the bike in to his local shop, show them his current saddle and how he sits on it and ask for a recommendation. Some bike expert I am.

But who am I to say what’s best for an 82 year old man on a 20 year old mountain bike?

Dad on Bike

In the tradition of Father’s Day stories, I could write about what a great dad he was growing up: how he pushed me to stretch my limits by bribing me to jump off the diving board with popsicles, and by slowly backing up as I anxiously swam into his open arms. I’m sure that helped make me who I am today and certainly came in handy the day I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. And I didn’t even get a popsicle that time.

But it’s what he does today that fills me with pride. Like how every time I go back to Louisiana he wants to go for a bike ride, whether it’s the heat of summer or chill of winter. Next time I visit he wants me to take him to a mountain bike park he read about in the newspaper. Apparently someone at church said it has easy trails.

While Dad rocks the pasture trail, I’m not so sure about the roots, ruts and mud found on dirt trails back home, much less the snakes, gators and biting insects. Not that Dad was ever afraid of wildlife. He’s no city slicker.

Dad on Grass Summer

They say a girl chooses a husband who is the same kind of man as her father. If I look at my husband Dick, the resemblance is not immediate. Where my Dad is quick to act and impatient, Dick thinks before he acts and is methodical. What they have in common is their teasing sense of humor and their zest for an active life. And the way they both treat me with love and respect. That’s the most important lesson from my dad: that I deserve it.

They also share a love for riding with their daughters. Dick’s daughter Jana prefers running to bicycling, but she invited Dick out for a ride in Golden Gate Park last week. It had been years since they’d ridden together, but the smiles were still the same, even after 12 windy and somewhat hilly miles. Some things you never outgrow.

Dick & Jana

Jana was on the East Coast for wedding on Father’s Day, so Dick and I went out for a trail ride at a park that’s popular with families. That meant lots of “Happy Father’s Day!” greetings for all the dads out riding with their children of all ages, from toddlers to adults. Seeing a son in full mountain bike gear with his seventy-something dad toodling down the fire road made me miss my dad, and wonder where we’ll ride together next time.

Do you still bike with your dad? If so, what’s your favorite place to ride together? If not, where would you take him if you could?

P.S. To my bike expert friends: does anyone have a saddle suggestion for my dad? As you can see in the pictures, he tends to sit forward on his saddle, which is on the wide side. Would narrower be better?

Dad & Dick Race

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Family Rides

 

Fashion Friday: Little Brown Dress

Chocolate, mocha, cinnamon, caramel, chestnut. The little black dress may be the diva that gets all the attention, but understated browns are fresh, easygoing and just as versatile. A tie-front cropped bolero sweater adds a little cream to my coffee brown dress, for a richer look that warms me up on my morning ride.

Little Brown 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.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Signal SUCCESS! Patience is a Virtue

If you ride a bike on city streets you probably have encountered it: the traffic signal that rudely ignores you. So you wait for a car to arrive or drag your bike out of the lane and onto the sidewalk to push the pedestrian button. You complain to the city and they say they’ll fix it. Then one day six months later, on your same old commute home there it is–marking exactly where bikes need to wait to trip the signal. Patience is a virtue.

Bike Signal Loop

Location: Wright Avenue at N Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Maker Faire Extraordinaire

Is it the work of a creative genius or just plain weird? That’s a matter of perspective. Take this solar car that Dick and I saw at the Maker Faire Bay Area a few weeks ago. I recognized it immediately as the creative work of a man in my neighborhood. I think it’s kind of cool. His neighbors who see it parked on the street every day are not so generous. Especially since he’s quite prolific in the creative vehicle department.

Solar Car Wide

That’s what the Maker Faire is all about: having a vision of something unique and having the drive to build it.

I come from a family of makers. There are few things my dad enjoys more than fashioning a clever gadget, a repair part for a household item or a toy for his great-grandkids in his workshop. My mom is a master painter, quilter and seamstress. Growing up, if we saw an expensive dress, she would sketch it on a piece of paper and sew us a perfect knock-off. My sister Lucy is an award-winning fiber artist who teaches her craft across the country, and her daughter Martha is an equally talented sculptor and fashion designer.

I could go on more. I have a very big family with lots of creative talent.

I have a little maker in me that comes out every once in a while. Like the time I desperately wanted a fascinator hat for a ladies tea and couldn’t find one I liked. So I made my own from a cereal box, linen and craft store feathers. And the time I made creole cream cheese from raw milk based on how my mother remembered her aunts making it in her childhood in the 1930s. But I’m a dilettante as a maker. I have little commitment.

Fascinator3

I don’t have the dedication and persistence that drives someone to fashion a robotic hand with the manual dexterity to pick up objects, and of a size and strength to pick up automobile fenders and sheet metal.

Maker Robot Hand

I don’t have the quirkiness to mount dozens of animated fish and lobsters on an old Volvo for a rolling orchestra.

Deep Sea Orchestra

I don’t have the grand vision to make a statement about the power of the bicycle by using bicycles and volunteer labor for a Pedal Powered Stage. And to fashion it as El Arbol the bike tree? That’s way out of the box.

Bike Powered Speaker Tree

The Maker Faire had so much going on it was hard to take it all in. Fortunately, I took a lot of pictures. Because I wouldn’t have enough words to describe the amazing creations. You have to see it for yourself.

Are you a maker? If so, is your maker drive confined to a particular discipline or are you all over the map?

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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in Around Town

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Tropical Heat Classics

When the weather forecast proclaims the hottest weather of the season and you’ve got errands to run, it’s time to pull out the tropical classics. Dick’s loose fitting cotton shirt, cargo shorts and sandals work as well rolling around town in California as they have for over a century in Nairobi, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Casual Cool

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 9, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Pointy Toe Overlap

The pointy toes of my cowboy boots may be designed for sliding into stirrups quickly, and they may be useful for killing cockroaches in corners. But for track standing at stop signs? Not so good.

20130604-103257.jpg

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 4, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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