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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bike Commute Diaries: Brief Encounter on Caltrain

“Nice bike,” he said. “Nice bike,” I said. “Is that special edition Golden Gate Bridge orange? It goes with my dress.” “Yes, and it matches my pants.” “Can I take your picture for Silicon Valley Bike Style?” “Sure.”

The only way to meet people on your commute that’s better than riding transit is riding transit with a bike.

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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 July 16, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Black & White for Tea

Who needs the Kentucky Derby to break out the big-brimmed dressy summer hats? Afternoon tea with the ladies is the perfect time to pull out a flower trimmed hat, double-bow peep toe pumps and suitcase-style bag, all done up in crisp black and white. A whole new look for my favorite little black dress.

White Hat

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 July 14, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Spotting: The Intuit-ive Way to Bike Share

Bay Area Bike Share may be gearing up for its launch next month, but I’m seeing little reminders that bike sharing isn’t exactly new here in Silicon Valley. Like this lovely blue Dutch-style bike that’s been parked at the Mountain View Caltrain station for the past few days. A quick glance at the chain guard gives away as a campus bike for Intuit, the software company that brought you Quicken and TurboTax.

Campus bikes are perfect for company sites that grow so big that walking between buildings is tedious but driving is silly. With 1800 employees at their bayside campus, Intuit is much smaller than its neighbor Google who has higher-profile bike sharing program. Like the Google bikes, Intuit bikes are built tough and practical for short trips by Republic Bikes. And like the Google bikes, they sometimes show up far from campus. I guess what’s good for getting across campus is good for getting across town. Good thing there aren’t any late fees.

Intuit Bike

Republic Bikes specializes in sturdy fleet bikes that can be easily and colorfully customized for your business.

Location: Downtown Mountain View Caltrain Station, Evelyn Avenue near Castro Street.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting

 

Bike Lane FAIL? Median Path in Los Altos Hills

If you’re designing a way for bikes to navigate a tough intersection, a great place to start is to ask bicyclists, right? Sounds great in theory but in practice, but you’ll find that bicyclists don’t always agree on what’s best.

Take this median path on El Monte Road, a high-speed four lane road that crosses under Interstate 280. At a local bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee meeting, one of the BPAC members proposed it as a good model for a redesign of a similar undercrossing just up the freeway. I strained to understand. Did he really think a narrow sidewalk would work for the packs of road riders that frequent this area? I mean, it’s so narrow that there’s even a “walk bike” sign. And the path is 1/2 mile long. No roadie would ever walk that far in their Sidis.

Median Path

The reality is that few people actually walk their bikes on this path and it’s very useful for people who don’t want to ride on the roadway and deal with high-speed traffic merging on and off the freeway. While I’ve ridden on the roadway on weekly basis and have had little trouble with drivers, not everyone wants to ride like that. Ironically, the day I took these photos, a driver nearly right-hooked me in his impatience to get on the freeway.

So is this path good for bicyclists? Yes, provided the city ditches the “walk bike” sign and doesn’t expect all cyclists to use the median pathway. Bicyclists don’t always choose the same path and that’s OK by me.

Note: “No Bikes” photo from Greg McPheeters. More on the Los Altos Hills attempt to ban bikes is here.

Location: El Monte Road at Interstate 280, adjacent to Foothill College.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

A True-Blue, All-American Fourth of July

Parades, picnics and fireworks, and everything decked out in red, white and blue. Those are the all-American traditions for celebrating Independence Day, even if it’s not what Dick and I usually do. But this year, after researching local Fourth of July activities for my Bike Fun blog for the Mountain View Voice, I jumped headfirst into the holiday like never before. Truth is, I was curious whether the events I recommended were worth it.

Was the Rose, White and Blue parade worth buying silk flowers and carefully zip tying them to my bike? Was it worth rolling out of bed early to hop on a bus to San Jose? Even more important: was it worth convincing my friend Cindy to get up early, decorate her bike and ride in the parade with me? For all I knew, we could be the only adults riding our bikes in a sea of cute little kids under the watchful eyes of suspicious parents.

Tissue Paper Wheels

As usual, my fears were unfounded. Cindy and I had a blast decorating her bike, showing it off to her friends next door, and then riding over to the parade start in the nearby Rose Garden neighborhood. There we found fire trucks, marching bands, classic automobiles and families on elaborately decorated bikes. Most importantly, we met a welcoming trio of flamboyant friends: Raymond, Ken and Diamond Mike. We had found our bike gang.

Cindy and the Boys

Fortunately, neither the parade nor our ride to downtown San Jose for lunch afterward was too taxing (despite the heat) because Dick and I had plans for the evening. Based once again on my research for the Voice, I had picked up residents-only discounted tickets for the San Francisco Symphony and Fireworks Show at the Shoreline Amphitheatre back in Mountain View. We had ridden out to the adjacent Shoreline Park to see the fireworks display before, but never had the pleasure of hearing musical accompaniment to the fireworks.

Like the Rose, White & Blue Parade, the symphony was worth it. Unlike the Rose, White & Blue Parade, we’ll definitely be going back next year and inviting some of friends. Then again, if some of y’all want to do the parade with me, it won’t take much to convince me. I’m always game for decorating my bike.

What are your Fourth of July traditions? Do you ride to a traditional event? Or perhaps do an epic ride?

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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Around Town, Family Rides

 

Fashion Holiday Edition: Rose, White and Blue

When a good old-fashioned 4th of July parade marches through San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood it emerges as the Roses, White & Blue Parade. Susie Q turned heads with her garlands of red floribuna and white tea silk roses with sprays of lilac as she rolled slowly down the shaded avenues on a hot summer day.

Bedecked with Roses

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 July 4, 2013 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Indicator Species for What?

I sometimes feel a little lonely on my bike commute, seeing so many men riding along and so few women joining in on the fun. It’s not like my route along the river trail is on treacherous high-speed roads with hostile drivers scaring away female riders, often called the indicator species for a healthy cycling environment.

The answer came to me at lunch when I looked around the sandwich shop. Maybe it’s not about bicycling, it’s about Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry. There aren’t many female commuters here, with or without bikes.

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 July 2, 2013 in Commute Diaries

 
 
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