Friday, August 29, 2014

Mutimodal Commuting - Park Your Bike and Ride the Tram

Valet bike parking at the base of the Portland Aerial Tram.
No one would dispute that Portland, Oregon, is forward thinking when it comes to fueling the bike transportation boom. While visiting on vacation this month, it came as a delightful surprise to discover a full bike parking facility at the base of an aerial tram. Bike parking is free and open to all, though used primarily by OHSU workers employed at the upper campus. A cyclist can take advantage of the bike valet service then hop on the tram for a 4 minute ride, saving a 500 foot uphill slog.

Go By Bike operates the valet service.
As a family we didn't have easy access to bikes. Instead, we experienced multimodalism on our own terms: drove to ride lightrail (with a bus link because of construction on rail tracks), walked as far as our teens could handle, then hopped on a street car, arriving at the base of the Portland Aerial Tram. I had little time to photograph the new found valet parking before I was whisked aboard the next tram car. And what spectacular views of the city! It was there that I became intrigued with the Tilikum Bridge.

Read more about the OHSU Bike Program.

Go By Bike has a nifty 2 minute video that includes parking and tram ride. If you look closely you can see the streetcar. Also, many folks board the tram with bicycles. Check it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Ride Leads to Discovery: The Black Snake Affair

Following the Intervale Trail through fertile farmland, I stopped to inspect a new sign near the Winooski River. 

The Champlain Valley is abundant with history because of shared border with Canada, making Lake Champlain a major transportation waterway in early settlement times. Vermonters were also on the frontier, claiming and printing their own currency, unwilling to join the original 13 colonies, holding out for a dozen years before giving in.

It comes as little surprise that residents refused to head the 1808 Embargo Act placed against trade with British Canada. The Black Snake vessel was in the Winooski River ready to smuggle downstream a load of potash when a Revenue Cutter seized the boat. A confrontation developed and Black Snake's crew killed three men.

A area roped off to approximate the Black Snake's size. I read the temporary placards, which informed about potash in early history. Potash is made by running water through ash, and used as ingredient in gunpowder and as fertilizer. The display was removed when I pedaled by two days later
Three men were tried, but only one was sentenced for hanging. Cyrus Dean was executed in front of 10,000 Burlington people. He was "swung off".

I shared my historical discovery with Garage Sale Ride ladies (sadly, only my co-leader and friend attended). We picnicked at a nearby community gardens. And interestingly, one person had never ridden through the Intervale, on either dirt or paved pathways, so all was not lost. I was happy to introduce an alternative way through Burlington and share new found history; I purchased a book at a sale, and one lady bought a tool. All on a bright blue sky morning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

At Peace with My Love of the Bicycle

Early morning walk along a bike path, edging the Columbia River, Oregon. Visually
serene, but automobile commuters rumble nearby, just past the grassy berm.
 We seek our peaceful moments when we can.
In recent years, like many people who are confronted with health issues, or aging parents, job prospects, sick friends or children - what many refer to as "life"- it's a reminder that time does not stand still and we deal with changes as they come.

Bicycles have become an integral part of my happiness, more-so now than ever.

Years ago, I shut TV media off, getting news bits from Internet headlines, on my own terms. It started with 911, which coincided with when I became a mother. I watch happy movies, for the most part, controlling the amount of violence in screen-viewing drama and read novels that transport me to other parts of the world. It's a mental coping mechanism that works for me.

At the same time I started riding more, for errands mostly, to find that "happy place". Adding bike overnights, occasional rides with my husband, and short rides with our children, contributed to not exactly euphoria, but to a peaceful place - a place where I feel calm, think clearly, connect on a digital free level, and can contemplate next steps, whatever those may be.

And, just as importantly, my family, in-laws, parents, seemingly understand when I announce I'm off for a couple hours, a day away, or for a weekend alone. I always return, refreshed.

I long ago realized that my body needs to move. And I see the same restless characteristic in our youngest boy.

I am at peace, finally. I'm happy. And while I have other creative outlets, I'm thankful I've figured out that cycling is a source of contentment on many levels.

Where does cycling fit in your life? Is is strictly for exercise or does riding satisfy something else?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Retro Bike T-shirt

Months ago I won this beautiful shirt from MG at Chasing Mailboxes What's not to like about sunflowers and bicycles?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tilikum Crossing: Passage for Alternative Commuters

As a former resident of Portland, Oregon I was pleased to spy a delightful bridge rising above the Willamette River, especially since it will offer an alternative route for cyclists in a city bursting its seams. Tilikum Bridge (people's bridge) is wide enough for light rail, pedestrians, buses, and cyclists, plus emergency vehicles - no automobiles are allowed.

I recognized the similarity with Baltimore's inner harbor pedestrian bridge, though Portland's sail-like structure is on a much grander scale. The bridge is distinct, like Portland's other crossings and will fit the landscape, further solidifying Portland as a "city of bridges". However, commuters seeking to use the Tilikum will have to wait a while longer. The bridge is not scheduled to open until late summer, 2015.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Portland Banner

Downtown Portland, Oregon: where bike commuters are everywhere and advertising, using the bicycle as emblems reigns supreme.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Gotta Love Those Oregon Plates

Oh, how I'd love to have the option to buy a Vermont vanity license plate like the kind offered in Oregon!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

San Francisco Biking is a Delight

Bike the Bridge—Golden Gate Bridge, that is.

Our family is on vacation in California and Oregon, so a little bike riding is on the agenda. Of course, with teenagers in tow, diversions are encouraged, like play time at an outdoor fitness center.

 Our youngest son must try every piece of equipment.

While the older, cautious son knows his limits, saving enough energy for later. We rode together, bringing up the rear.

He's the camera and video buff, so we stopped to take photos and admire long legged white birds, presumably egrets or cranes.

The golden Gate bridge slowly appeared, emerging from the ubiquitous mist.

My husband climbs the ramp to bridge deck level.
Biking the bridge is not a solitary affair. In fact, we rode with 1000 others. Besides following the same route we had much in common, all pedaling a similar hybrid bicycle—only three rental company's supplied all the bikes.

Pull offs provide ample space to enjoy the view.
Cycling over the bridge keeps you on your toes. With pedestrians, wisely navigating one side, bike riders are relegated to the other raised pathway. It is controlled chaos—the horde moves at different speeds, with locals zipping past or unnervingly head on, narrowly squeezing by.

The above is an example of our ride. Thankfully, my videographer son is a safe bike rider. As a mom though, I gasp when I  find he films while riding with one hand on the handlebars. And later, I contend with a 15 year old's attitude when I mistakenly refer to "video". Which apparently is not the correct term. My son rolls his eyes "It's a vlog, Mom."

Our youngest is a biking whiz, a bit cocky after finishing a week of
mountain biking camp just before vacation.
The ride towards Sausalito is smoother. The trail is wider; the crowds thinned when climbing a long hill.

Sunny Sausalito was a welcome treat. Even with crowds waiting for a spot on scheduled ferry departures.

Plenty of time to eat ice cream or purchase a souvenir.

Queue up and load. A nice cruise past Alcatraz then dock in San Francisco.

A ferry full of like bicycles makes for an interesting line up and retrieval when disembarking—a difficulty we encountered when our oldest son forgot where he parked his bike. To be fair, a ferry attendant insisted our boy place his bicycle separate from our three bikes. However, as 15 year olds are, he was unfazed (unlike his parents) when all passengers left and his bike disappeared. Fortunately, one bike from the same rental company was unclaimed. We had our son snag it and returned the bike without penalty.

Would I Bike The Bridge again? For sure, but next time I'd go further, visit, Marin Park and/or Tiburon. What's not to like about bikes and San Francisco?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Golf Ball Ingenuity

Photo credit: Simply Cycle
I've always admired kickstands with rubberized feet, the kind that displace the bike's weight and feel stable. Mine are the old fashioned creeky type that constantly loosen. The kind that scrape on asphalt. If I forget to position the handlebars just so, the bicycle may lean too far to the left and topple before I catch and save her from crashing to the ground. But yet, they still function so I'm adverse to replacing each (I have four) until they fail altogether.

Enter the golf ball solution. According to a fellow cyclist he suggests drilling a hole the diameter of your kickstand into a golf ball. Push the ball in place. It's easy and also allows the bike to stand up on grass.

Photo credit: RV Now
And yet, I'm not convinced it's what I want. Though, I may change my mind. You've got to admit, the golf ball has a certain sense of style. Especially if I use mini golf-type flashy colors.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Birthday Bike Overnight

The pole is a flashing red beacon at night; perfect
 as a nightlight on a moonless evening.
Scrambling to get somewhere before dark. My husband, youngest son, and me. 12 miles.

A nice breeze. Slipping poles into rings and sleeves, sometimes twice in the fading light. Water all around.

All for a quiet sunrise view on my birthday. Peaceful.

My husband and I watched a hot air balloon rise from the landscape. Silhouetted. I presumed it was a water tower. Water towers don't move.

Take down obvious yellow tent.

Wait for other son to rise. Snuggle time on bench. He eats popcorn chips for a snack.

Slowly pack.

Wandering. Exploring.

Reading posters, maps. Before causeway ferry gets underway at 10 a.m.

Early morning fishermen rumble through the opening.

By 7 a.m. the first bike riders visit us. Chat. "You did what?" they say in disbelief. "Get, out!"

Hungry. We beeline to town for breakfast. Coffee and bagel sandwiches. Yum.