Monday, September 28, 2015

Open Streets Burlington

In this second Open Streets event, a pop up demonstration by Local Motion shows how riders feel safer with a barrier as buffer between themselves and traffic. In this instance an existing bike lane only needs some kind of movable impediment, like a cement curb-like structure, similar to those used on Montreal bike lanes.

Another example: swap curbside automobile parking with bike lane to allow cyclists safer navigation.

A youngster plays red light, green light bean bag toss.
3 miles of public roads were closed to allow walkers and cyclists a chance to experience car-free streets. There were several exhibitors: schools, Red Cross, bike shops offering free wrenching service, produce stands, a park full of giant checkers and Junga blocks to play. There was free coffee, pop corn, slalom courses set up to have fun testing bike handling skills.

Do you know your bicycle hand signals? 
Under threat of stormy-looking skies, families still mobilized and took advantage of what several booths had to offer for games free apples, and swag. The Red Cross handed out popular stuffed dogs.

Cyclists of all ages enjoyed the event.

Stylish young riders followed parents.

Young couples towed children in trailers.

I was mesmerized with spray chalk. What bright colors!

Some hardy folks tested their metal on Gold Sprints.

I'm glad the weather held so everyone could enjoy Open Streets BTV!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Girls Ride Out

A Facebook event. Getting girls (and wee ones too) together. Plus one dog, a cargo bike, and a tandem.

To chat. Stop at stop signs. Giving each other space.

Ringing all our bells - what a glorious sound.

Laughing. Sharing tales. 30+ riders strong.

We are girls. We are riders. We are safe. We have a good time, riding into a spectacular sunset.

When do we do it again?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Burlington Streets Challenge - ONE Complete

Another installment in the series to ride every public road within Burlington's city limits in 2015.

With 228 streets behind me, I have completed the Old North End district, otherwise known as ONE, Burlington's up and coming part of town. Once a low income neighborhood, full of derelict houses, there's a move to unite new immigrants, artsy young people and elderly folks through shifting regional identity. Enter historic signs, community meeting spaces, multinational groceries and restaurants, a marriage of Old Spokes Home and Bike Recycle, ONE events, and the second year of Open Streets, closing 3 miles of roads to host and celebrate pedestrian and cycling activities. It's a veritable whirlwind of change!

A building with lots of character.
I've especially enjoyed pedaling through this part of town because I stumble upon pop-up libraries, sweet little gardens in public green spaces, and the most interesting houses. On dead end Crowley Street I find the Champlain Club. I've discovered it's a venue for Vermont Swings, a dancing club that utilizes space from regular members-only clientele that play poker and shoot pool on Friday nights. Originally called the Goethe Lodge or German Club, it's only one of many private clubs in Burlington. For some reason these organizations tend to reside in quiet neighborhoods. 

Close up of the Champlain Club's early roots as the German Club. Look at that spectacular window!

ONE developers and builders take care to blend new construction (like the metal siding shown above, trimmed in yellow) with existing wood clapboard structures (see green building). 

Some streets are filled with colorfully painted Victorian structures, giving new life and vibrancy to dense neighborhoods. 

There are as many as 50 houses all dolled up in striking color schemes. No longer viewed as garish, they have become an accepted, defining feature of the ONE district.

The map is upfront and center as I make sure to ride particular streets.
Now that it's September, I'm concentrating on completing certain city areas, For example, I designate two parallel streets that bisect one region, then set my goal to ride all streets in between that are not yet checked off my map. This may include riding dead end streets, or pedaling one block—whatever it takes to fill in quadrants on my map. 

And where else but the ONE would I encounter a food truck on it's way to some event!

As I exit the region, I pedal by a favorite bike rack, marveling at the size of thealbeit fixednumerical lock.

Completed Streets to date:
  1. Red Oak Lane
  2. Valade Park
  3. Blondin Circle
  4. Venus Avenue
  5. Sky Drive
  6. Sunset Drive
  7. Meridian Street
  8. Sandy Lane
  9. Lopes Avenue
  10. Rosade Parkway
  11. Lakewood Parkway
  12. Tallwood Street
  13. Birchwood Street
  14. Leonard Street
  15. Kimball Avenue
  16. South Williams Street
  17. North Williams Street
  18. Booth Street
  19. Crowley Street
  20. Myrtle Street
  21. Summer Street
  22. Green Street
  23. Buell Street
  24. Cherry Street
  25. Main Street
  26. North Champlain Street
  27. Monroe Street
  28. Johnson Street
  29. Murray Street
  30. Allen Street
  31. Elmwood Avenue
  32. George Street
  33. Clark Street
  34. North Winooski Avenue
  35. Lafayette Street
  36. Converse Court
  37. North Willard Street
  38. Adsit Court
  39. Weston Street
  40. High Grove Court
  41. South Prospect Street
  42. King Street

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Practical Review of Upcycled Bike Bags

For several months I've exclusively used three upcycled bike bags on my daily 10-mile round trip commute. I own traditional panniers however, for reasons better explained here, I've focused on this pleasant alternative.

I appreciate the floral sling bag because of its large volume. The bag was constructed with pannier hardware - the lock down clips are it's best feature - and the deep canvas-like fabric molds to whatever I stow inside. In this case I usually stuff a book, dress clothes, and my lunch. Surprisingly, the bag holds more gear than I ever expected. The tan color is now speckled with black spots, but as with any pannier, it's difficult to keep clean.

The downsides: depending upon the weight, the bag has a tendency to sway, but I've learned to pack accordingly, stuffing heavier items towards the rack. It should go with out saying that any pannier constructed from multiple materials is not waterproof. I throw a couple plastic grocery bags inside for those days with a chance of showers.

I've used the handle bar bag for years. In its place I often contemplate zip tying a wire basket to the front rack - I love the look of baskets - but the functionality of this double fabric canvas bag with strong leather handles regularly holds a tiny tool bag, a mini pump, plus whatever else I can fit inside. It conveniently holds a gallon of milk or paint can, all supported upon the rack. This bag's a keeper!

The small-sized messenger bag has become my purse. I store the usual items plus a camera. Because it is secured to rack with velcro-type attachment, it is not designed to carry heavy stuff. This is a perfect bag and easy to sling over my shoulder when I enter the office.

I'm pleased with the overall functionality of all my upcycled bike bags and wouldn't consider returning to traditional panniers for short commutes.

What unconventional storage systems have you explored?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ausable Chasm Ride

On my own this summer with only one boy at home, we set off on the ferry to New York state. My son's friend tagged along for the adventure.

Departing the western shore, it's only 3 miles to Ausable Chasm. A place to hike, explore the rock formations, but most especially for the tube ride through narrow cliffs.

It's a daylong adventure, especially when you count the hour long boat ride each way and an ungodly wait on busy weekend days to plop yourself in an inner tube for a 25 minute float. But somehow we look forward to this once every five years. It gets us outdoors, away from digital devices and provides a 10 mile round-trip bike ride from our doorstep. Who doesn't like a ferry ride with a beautiful view of Vermont's Green Mountains and the Burlington Harbor every once in a while?