So you remember last week, how we talked about that winter bird singing through the snow and how we can sing against the odds, and then I told you that this week I would have a really! exciting! announcement! to make?
The good news is that the planned announcement has nothing to do with tortilla chips that were surreptitiously smashed into my sofa. The less-good news is that these chips represent an extra-chaotic week, and the full reveal is just plain not ready.
I’ll just go ahead and assume you weren’t planning your WHOLE week around this announcement and save the kleenex for another time.
But how about a little hint to tide you over?
Springtime… sweets… and…
Full reveal coming soon, I promise. In the meantime, step outside this weekend, find yourself something beautiful, and enjoy some good winter fun.
Yes, Canadians, this one is all about you. We’ve noticed: you’re spectacular (also, you do let us know). So, here are a few more things for you to brag about, eh?
Winnipeg is a city to watch.
If you’re going to do it, then do it right. As Winnipeg rolls out new bike infrastructure they’re doing more than most North American cities to follow established best practices, rather than just slapping some paint on the pavement and calling it a day.
Let’s be clear from the outset: Winnipeg hasn’t arrived. Like most North American cities, dangerousgaps remain in their bicycle infrastructure and they have many miles to go to go before they reach the gold.
But there are flickers of hope. Last winter, world-renowned bicycle consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen visited visited Winnipeg and saw promise.
In the example above, the bike lane is routed around the inside of the bus stop so the rider doesn’t need to veer into traffic to pass. Brilliant – and uncommon on these shores.
In Winnipeg? Try out this map (in beta) to get you where you need to go by bike.
Routes to Ride in Edmonton
I was working when I started riding my bike for transportation, and traveled exactly one route day in and day out. Now that I’m ranging a little more widely, I’m doing the sometimes-fun-exasperating-frightening route-finding task. Around here, a bike route might hop back and forth across a five-lane road, be washed out by a rain, disappear into an expressway, or wind through a beautiful park. You never know what you’re going to get! If you’re living in (or visiting) the fabulous metropolis of Edmonton, check out Miss Sarah’s start on a collection of great routes to ride. Taking the guesswork out of route-finding – a solid win.
Vancouver. Whoopdeedoo. No, really – Whoopdeedoo!
In places where bike infrastructure is taking off, there tends to be something of a sound and fury between people who drive cars to get around and people who ride bikes to get around. So this artist thought: let’s lighten up, eh?
Entering stage left: the Whoopteedoo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Creator Greg Papove says this:
The city of Vancouver is trying to develop more bike paths, but gets a lot of resistance from drivers. I thought the Whoopdeedoo project would be a good way to start a dialogue about transportation in the city. Cycling is fast, fun, easy, and healthy (and the list goes on). It is a great way to get around for a lot of people. I wanted to reward the cyclists with something fun, while also making the reward visible to drivers, to ideally encourage them to get out of their cars and onto a bike. The ramp has a smooth transition that is easier to ride over than most speed bumps in the city, making it easy for riders of all ages and comfort levels.
Read more about the Whoopteedoo in the Atlantic Cities article here or Greg Papove’s website here.
This turned out to be a downtown-themed week around here: first a pretty downtown pic of a gleaming red bike after a rainstorm, and then a conversation on what we’d like to see in a downtown. Visit us in the comments; your thoughts are more than welcome, whatever downtown you call home.
Climbing as transportation. Who knew it was a thing? Not climbing the walls, although that’s what we’re experiencing around here, thank you very much summer vacation! The real climb is biking up hills in San Francisco, climbing ladders to get to school in China, and both climbing and cleaning Cincinnati’s old stairways. Enjoy.
San Francisco, Home of the Hills, is looking to get more people on their bikes.
Increasingly, this compact, space-conscious metropolis is seeing the importance of nurturing such change if the economy is to be encouraged to grow. “This isn’t only about saving the environment – it’s about spurring the economy. Just because San Francisco is stuck with limited land space, doesn’t mean we have to stagnate,” says San-Francisco transportation consultant, and regular bicycle commuter, Joe Speaks. “It’s wonderful that San Francisco continues to add new businesses, new jobs, and new housing. But nobody wants more traffic. That means we need more walking, biking, and transit. Making room for bikes and pedestrians is about making room for people, rather than cars.”
Rough commute? Chinese kids climb cliffs to get to school.
Just in case I’m tempted to complain about our school run…
In this crazy clip from China, little kids climb steep ladders to get to school! I wonder how nervous the parents are each day, or if they are given how normal this undoubtedly is for them. This is so wild I hardly know what to say about it.
Three: Inspiration for the Week!
Cincinnati group turns around “forgotten pedestrian spaces.”
I do love rusty old forgotten things. This article in Atlantic Cities says:
There are more than 400 pedestrian staircases threading through the steep hills of Cincinnati. Today they resemble a kind of skeleton of that city’s once-robust pedestrian infrastructure, originally designed to get workers to and from their factory jobs and afford residents of hillside neighborhoods easy access to the old streetcar system. But the staircases of Cincinnati have long been in decline…
And this is where the group called Spring in Our Steps has come in, by organizing neighbors to clean up and repair the spaces that are special to them.
On their recent clean-up event:
Our mission for Stepping Up in April was this: To show how much a few dedicated individuals can accomplish in one to two hours. Each of our days consist of some excuse as to why we should not donate our services to a community. We’re too tired, too busy, or too far away. As soon as we make that leap toward an act of altruism, the rest is history.
Feeling inspired? What would you do in your town if you had ten people and one hour? Leave a comment and share the inspiration… and have a great weekend.
On a whim, I visited the Holland City Council meeting on Wednesday. Among other things, there was a lengthy discussion about whether to install a new No Parking sign on a corner near Jefferson Elementary School.
One of the interesting points of discussion was the neighbors’ objection to teachers using street parking rather than the parking lot – there were several references to “the nice new parking lot we just built them.” It’s an interesting relationship we have with the public streets in front of our homes, isn’t it? We have really wide streets in Holland. We’re using using public dollars to maintain them. So. Hm.
Anyway, this was not the main thrust of the conversation, and consensus seemed to be that congestion and visibility in the area were the biggest issues. I have to say, though, that I’m not sure that solving those problems will bring us the desired result. I tend to think rather that the biggest problem is speed and the expectation of speed. We’ll probably take a look at this again soon – what do you think?
Coolest thing ever.
(It’s been recently pointed out to me that I think a lot of things are the coolest ever. Truth. There’s a lot of coolness in this world.)
Ten-year-old America steps through the door of a cavernous building crammed with 600 or so bicycles in Asbury Park, New Jersey. She fills out a time card, dons a work apron, safety glasses and gloves, then begins wresting a tire off its frame. Asked if that’s difficult, she replies, “I can handle it.”
America is cheerfully and confidently working toward her own two-wheeler, preferably in hot pink or orange, thanks to Kerri Martin, aka “the Bike Lady.” She’s the force behind a youth-centered bike store where kids contribute 15 hours in the shop to earn a set of wheels for themselves. “There’s no prerequisite,” Kerri says. “Anyone who makes the effort can come.” And come they do: Around 200 walked through the door last year. “The kids think they’re just getting a bike,” Kerri laughs. “But they’re learning job skills and gaining a work ethic.”
This crazy idea turned into a great community asset. I love it. In a video on their website, she says, “It worked, and I can’t believe it worked.” What an awesome way to build up a city!
I get that crazy itch to travel just reading about this amazing adventure. A intrepid group of six friends went on a bike tour for the ages: they pedaled their way from Germany to Thailand, motivated to see the world, connect with regular people, and not use a lot of fuel to do so. Click here to learn more about their adventures, but be warned: you may be compelled to purchase a plane ticket if you look at the pictures!
I love these unconventional around-the-world travel stories. One of my favorite documentaries is the Ewan McGregor flick Long Way Round, where he and a friend go on a similar adventure.
A while back I posted something on Facebook about heading out on the bike to bring my daughter to preschool, and one of my friends cautioned me to be careful. Later that day, I was driving the same route when an oncoming semi started drifting into my lane. It wasn’t a close call – he was still a few hundred meters down the road. But those things are so freaking big that there was nowhere I could have gone to escape if that dingbat driver hadn’t corrected course.
So – perspective. Traffic is dangerous. Riding bikes is fun. Walk out the front door at your own risk.
A while back, I ran across this documentary by a very passionate advocate for the preservation of Irish Gaelic as he attempted to travel through Ireland speaking only Irish. Interesting stuff – discouragingly enough, it turns out that nobody in Ireland really speaks Irish – but on one occasion he does successfully rent a bike in Gaelic. It’s kind of fun to see him ride the streets of Galway, which are so very, very different than our own. (He starts his ride at around minute 16 following the link above.) And at around minute 22 of this episode you can see him driving an Irish highway. I don’t know if this is typical, but it’s an interesting point of comparison to our eight-lane WAHHH WE NEED MORE LANES behemoths.
You’ll notice that there are NO American cities on the list. Zero. Not even the much-hailed Portland made the list – and that is just how far we have to go, my friends. Opportunity is everywhere!
It’s more than just bikes, though. The Dutch know how to make their cities LIVABLE. And traffic speed has a lot to do with it. A street with slow-moving car traffic can feel vital because of so much foot traffic. People feel comfortable there, and this article argues that it’s what makes such a busy place feel so cozy.
In the 1970s, the people of the Netherlands dramatically changed course with regard to transportation when national fury over the deaths of children in car crashes converged with the oil crisis. They stopped throwing money into large highway projects, and began instead investing in what have become state-of-the-art cycle paths. “Build it and they will come proved true in the Netherlands.” An encouraging look at what can be done over the course of a few decades if the political will is present.
This video has some beautiful images of what it is actually like to ride in the Netherlands – little bike-shaped traffic lights and all.
Okay, that’s enough videos. Let’s end with a gratuitous tulip pic, shall we?
Someday we’ll get back to a regular posting schedule around here. Someday after the excitingDinner and Bikes (get your tickets!) evening has wrapped up, and children have shed all the forms of pestilence that have befallen them this week. Someday!
But today, an exciting event and a great deal!
Let’s start with the exciting event.
The Queen’s Day Criterium will happen in Holland on Sunday! A criterium, as it turns out, is a fast bike race. Come and wear orange (for the Queen’s birthday!).
Honestly, I don’t quite get how it works. But it begins at 9:00 a.m. downtown and will go on until about 5:30 p.m. and promises to be festive and fun. The part I’m most excited about is the kids’ stuff. There’s a FREE kids’ bike race at 12:30 p.m. for kids ages three through ten! (And no, the three-year-olds aren’t biking with the ten-year-olds – it’s an age-separated event.)
The Holland Sentinel did a great write-up of the event here.
I was hoping to ride our bikes into town to participate, but we’ll be running off to participate in the CROP Walk Against Hunger that afternoon so the kids’ bikes will have to be tucked into the back of the minivan. It’s going to be great fun nonetheless. I hope to see you there!
Next, the great deal. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. this Saturday, April 27 is Nelis’ Dutch Village Seventh Annual Food Drive. Bring one non-perishable food item, and receive a free 2013 admission pass! Those suckers aren’t cheap. You can get one pass for each person-food item pair that you bring, so make it a family outing. It’s almost Tulip Time – go get your Dutch on!
A Dinner and Bikes evening includes a gourmet, vegan and gluten-free buffet dinner prepared by Joshua Ploeg, a presentation about transportation equity and the everyday bicycling movement by Elly Blue, and a near-complete excerpt from Aftermass, Joe Biel’s forthcoming documentary about the history of bicycling in Portland. The event is followed by a book signing with all three presenters, and some time to peruse our traveling bicycle and cooking themed bookshop.
It is going to be SO. MUCH. FUN. Tickets are $10 and you can buy them here. Space is limited, so get yours right away! I can’t wait to see you there! You can follow the event on Facebook, too.
This week, I took BOTH younger girls – that’s a four-year-old and a one-year-old on my bike to drop Abigail off at preschool. It was the very first time that I’d ridden with two kids outside our neighborhood (which I started doing a couple weeks ago to practice), and… it was really easy! This was something that had really intimidated me, but once I got on the bike and just did it it was just no big deal. I can tell a difference in the added weight, but it’s not remarkable. Biggest surprise? It only took about five minutes longer than driving, if that. The time gained in not having to wrestle kids in and out of seats and look for parking was more than enough to make up for the slightly slower ride. And it was FUN! Can’t say that about the minivan (Though it does have its perks when it’s 36F and raining sideways in mid-April. But I digress.)
This school in San Francisco has developed an amazing bicycle culture! I can hardly even imagine a line of bikes at our daughters’ schools at drop-off time, but this encourages me – it can happen here, too. If you’re wondering how to transport multiple kids on bikes, just take a look at this picture: the familiar trailer, but I also see a couple long-tail bikes, a TrailGator, and what looks like it might be a mid-tail. If you’re curious about this whole “family bikes” thing, click on this picture to get to the original article, then click on the photos there for a closer look. It’s some pretty cool, pretty inspiring stuff.
These crazy cargo bikes have so many uses. How about a gelato bike? A Madsen here…
I’d love to see one of these replace the sometimes-sketchy ice cream trucks that fly through our neighborhood!
Finally, from Family Ride, a longtail bike carrying two. You can click around her bike for loads more pictures on different kid-and-bike set-ups, too.
And that’s it for now! It might be quiet around here for a little while longer, but I do hope to be back next week. Have a great weekend!