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Bike Commute Diaries: Getting the Creeps

In almost four years of daily bike commuting I’ve had my share of men try to chat me up on my ride. When you’re a solo female it’s bound to happen, especially when your choice in footwear is eye-catching. But when the “Nice shoes!” is preceded by a sense of being followed strong enough to make you look back; and it’s followed by a “Do you ride here every day?,” a simple compliment takes on a whole new creepy meaning.

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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 seen and learned while bicycling for transportation.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Fashion Friday: A Fresh Summer Green to Envy

Pink may be pretty, red may be powerful, and blue may be trustworthy, but there’s nothing fresher than the soft greens: mint, lime, chartreuse, seafoam, celadon, jade. My wrap-top print dress with a flowy skirt in jade green never fails to garner compliments from friends, co-workers, people on the street and most importantly, from me. Its standout color and flattering cut put a smile on my face every time I put it on.

Portrait

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 11, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bicycle Travel: Last Minute Escape to San Francisco

Oh, the lazy days of summer. After a fast-paced spring, I spent most of June cocooned at home, riding only for easy trips, and barely writing at all. When relaxation turned to boredom that was headed for depression, I knew I needed to break out of my dull rhythm with a weekend getaway. In a few clicks of the mouse and a quick chat with my husband, my Friday afternoon hair appointment in Burlingame became the start of a micro-vacation in San Francisco. I was halfway up the Peninsula anyway, why not meet Dick on Caltrain and head for the city?

Dinner was a multi-bike share experience that started in North Beach...

Our agenda included bicycling every day: our traditional bike date on Friday night, a ride across town to the Legion of Honor for a Matisse exhibit on Saturday, and ride in the SF Pride Parade with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. So like usual, we loaded our panniers and brought our touring bikes with us on the train.

But unlike most cities we’ve visited, San Francisco has Bay Area Bike Share bikes available and we’re annual members. We had bike options. Which bike we chose for which trip and why answered a question asked frequently when the system launched: “Why would people who have their own bikes use bike share?”

Bike Share on Embarcadero

Security. We were staying at the W Hotel downtown on the same block where our saddles were stolen last year. Even though we knew we’d be going out for dinner soon, we checked our touring bikes in at the bell desk and checked out bike share for our Bike Date Friday at Palamino Restaurant near the Bay Bridge. In fact, we avoided parking our bikes anywhere downtown all weekend by taking bike share instead of our own bikes.

Convenience. There was a bike share station across the street from the W hotel, and one in front of Palomino. There was one by the market where I picked up snacks and breakfast for us, and one within two blocks of 3 course, 3 restaurant meal we had on Saturday. (I admit I chose restaurants closer to bike share for those) The one time the bike station by our hotel was empty, we walked a couple of blocks to another one.

Speed. Stay with me on this one. The bikes may be upright, heavy, lumbering beasts, but docking and undocking them from the station is far speedier than locking and unlocking our own bikes. Especially in the big city where you have to secure not only the frame, but both wheels and the saddle. For the short trips we made around downtown we definitely came out ahead time-wise, even discounting the time searching for a bike rack.

Bike Share at Night

So why did we even bring our own bikes? Why not just ride bike share?

Location, Location, Location! The bike share is limited to the city’s downtown core on the city’s east edge and we wanted to ride out to the Legion of Honor in the city’s northwest corner.

Long-Distance Travel The ride to the Legion of Honor was close to twenty miles round trip which not only would mean a long time on a slow bike, it would mean frequent dock-surfing or high overage charges. Add to that a few long or steep climbs that wouldn’t have been fun on a 50-pound bike, even with its low low gears.

At the end of the weekend our mileage stats were: 10 miles on bike share in nine trips (aqua routes on map), 25 miles on our touring bikes in four trips (brown routes) and 64 miles in two trips by train (blue route). Zoom the map and click icons for details, or click here for a larger view.

What struck me about the way we used bikes was how it paralleled what many people might do with cars: drive to the city in their own car, park it at the hotel ($55 a day!), take taxi around downtown for drinks and dinner where parking is inconvenient or expensive, and only driving themselves to further out destinations like the Legion of Honor. Our touring bike rides were like a personal car trips, the bike share rides were like taxi rides.

It all worked so well we’re already plotting our next weekend escape. Will we bring our own bikes, or will we just walk, take transit and use bike share? It all depends on what city we’re visiting and our agenda.

If you’ve ridden a bike share bike before: why did you choose to ride them instead of riding your own bike? What worked, what didn’t? Did you wish you were riding your own bike instead?

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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in Issues & Infrastructure, Travel

 

Roll Up Bike Repairs at the Mountain View Library

Libraries are lending more than books, music and DVDs these days. In Oakland and Berkeley, the libraries lend home and garden tools. In Ann Arbor you can borrow artwork and yard games. And in Rhode Island you can check out fishing poles, complete with tackle boxes. Here in Mountain View, our public library is now offering a bike repair station loaded with tools. Not for loan, but available on a roll up basis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bike Stand Wide

While many of us have garages or spare rooms equipped with bike stands, floor pumps, and tools of every sort, the streets are filled with bikes that could use a little tender loving care. For them, this bike fix-it station made by Dero is a great resource. It’s well-stocked, sturdily built and ready for budding bike mechanics.

The Mountain View Public Library’s Bike Stop Fix-It Station is just one in its series of bike programs. On Saturday, July 12, 2014, they’re hosting Bike Fest on-site in their outdoor areas. Volunteers from Safe Mountain View will set up a demonstration protected bike lane like this one. If you’re local, stop in and check it out.

Location: 585 Franklin Street, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Gear Talk

 

Fashion Holiday Edition: Stripes & Stripes Forever

If you’re headed out for a BBQ, picnic or parade on July the 4th, a sundress or shorts will do just fine. But if you’re heading out to watch fireworks in the Bay Area, you’ll need protection from the chill, not the sun. Slap a cardigan over your T-shirt and swap your shorts for jeans and you’ll be oohing and aahing in comfort and style.

Portrait

Destination: the San Francisco Symphony concert and fireworks at Shoreline Amphitheater on the bay. Unless you like sitting in traffic for hours, biking the Stevens Creek Trail or walking is the way to go. Bring lights!

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, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Painful Squeeze in Mountain View

Another busy intersection, another re-design, another vanishing bike lane. Caltrain wanted to keep cars from getting caught on the tracks when the signal turns red. The county engineers wanted to push more cars through the intersection. Too bad no one considered what happens to people riding in the bike lane.

Rengstorff at Caltrain

The county’s plan shoehorned in a second left turn lane, which meant shoving the right lane further to the right, squeezing out the bike lane and forcing bikes and cars into an unexpected merge. Caltrain may be happy and the drivers turning left may be happy, but the right lane is now a painful squeeze for everyone. Is it too much to ask the traffic engineers to consider bike safety along with rail safety and vehicle throughput?

When the plans for this crossing and the crossing at Moffett were presented to the city council transportation committee, I spoke at the meeting and complained. The city engineer basically said it was the county’s design and there was little the city could do. I knew the changes would be bad, but they’re worse than I expected.

Location: Rengstorff Avenue at the Caltrain tracks/Central Expressway, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Polka Dotty

They’re named after hop-skip rhythmed polka dance, but more commonly worn in fiery foot-tapping flamenco. A polka dot dress in red chiffon, a helmet to match and ballet flats inspire girlish fun, whether you’re skipping through the field, tap dancing on the sidewalk or rolling down the street with the breeze kicking up your skirt.

Polka Dot Dress Portrait

Too short for work, this dress from ModCloth is perfect for meeting friends or weekend errands on a warm day.

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, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 
 
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