Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Cheshbon of 2015

What's a cheshbon? It's a Hebrew word that means an accounting. So, here I am about to make a cheshbon about  2015.

I know I've been busy, so busy to the point I neglect to even write something once a week. The funny doesn't come out of me all the time. I try to make my issues funny but some subjects are hard to make funny.

Cheshbon List 2015

He was very terrified of this. Somehow cucumbers were fine.
1. My garden suffered because of my bike activism. By full growing season I had some plants but not much to show for it. In 2016 I promise to grow more. I even started by cleaning up the garden this past Sunday when it started snowing on me. Yes, it snowed but didn't stick.

That time my kid kicked butt and biked more miles than adults
2. I want to blog more. It's hard, really, really hard. Having a tween and a toddler with no "buffer children" and that makes everything hard. So, 2015 was not my bloggiest year. Let's hope 2016 is better. I didn't even blog about my tweens epic adventure. She biked from home to UW then to Gas Works park and then home to the Rainier Valley. It helped we had friends along for the ride. Yes, she biked with the backpack the WHOLE TIME. It drives me nuts!

Riding the Rainier Valley Greenway as test experiments, not fun bike rides :(

Our pedestrian portrait. 

Ridiculous things we do when we are pedestrians

3. Ride my bike with kids every single day, except Shabbos. We had days this years where I was too pooped to figure out rain gear, baklava, shoes, snacks, blah blah blah. No, we didn't drive. I'm not crazy, we walked. My kids are great walkers. Walking requires all those items but at least I don't have to pack my disaster relief scenario on a bike because I basically do that every single time we bike.  They would win at kid walking races. Even the toddler is good to walk/run a mile. We are going to bike more but it requires I get organized.

Which window is she in? I was catching a train to Portland so no time to chat
4. I made it a whole year without meeting Reb Roush. Who is she and why do I want to meet her? Shouldn't I be satisfied that we are FB "friends", I follow her on Twitter and I have her cell number? I really enjoy looking and reading her Seattle Bicycle Portraits. When you look at bike propaganda it seems like the same 5 people are always highlighted, BORING. Her blog shows all the people who bike and all the kinds of bikes people have. I love that. Seattle is a city full of interesting people. I like seeing it in pictures. What makes this worse is that one day she encountered my husband with his bike. My husband likes to have is anonymity and refused his own Bicycle Portrait. Mr. Peyos has a really nice bike he loves. Oh well.

If you get one of these on your bike the other side has my info
5. Organize myself better. Mr. Peyos is really organized. He does it all. He's the modern Renaissance Man. I don't know how he does it. I actually do and should work on myself. Here's to better organization, which means I ordered business cards. 2015 put me in situations where I was writing my contact information on tiny pieces of paper. Those pieces of paper scream, "Take me seriously!"

Now that I have done a full cheshbon it looks like I need to get organized!

Oh and if I don't say it enough @SDOT, PUT A PROTECTED BIKE LANE ON RAINIER AVE.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

N-S Rainier Valley Greenway/Ride to Hell TWICE

I don't have a lot of time for anything. I have no idea why I am sitting here writing this. I should be doing something but my toddler is content playing with his toys.
Look at my kid in his plastic bubble (2nd Ride:More Wet)
As you know, I am not kidding when I want a protected bike lane on Rainier Ave. I'M NOT KIDDING!!


In order to prove a point I decided to convince someone from SDOT to take a joy ride with my bike gang here in south Seattle.  We are a hard core group of people with loud mouths and not afraid to say what's on our mind. We area also not scared by hills, wildlife (broken car parts) or getting shot in the butt. Yes, that happens.

How did I manage that? I go to meetings, specifically the ones about road changes. If you don't go to them you are not allowed to complain on Facebook pages with things like, "I didn't know?", "Why was the community not involved?". This is a common strategy in between the rants about how someone put their coat at a table at PCC to reserve a table and it INFURIATED YOU! Again, how did I convince anyone to bike with me? I blame another SDOT person, who shall remain anonymous. He basically said, "Hey, here's Shirley" and then ran for his life. Hahaha, it was so funny.

Our brave group started at the Rainier Beach Safeway. You know, what. If you have not shopped there because you believe the scary stereotypes then you are missing something. That store is super nice and clean. Can you say that about the other two Safeway stores in our corridor? NO! They have a manageable bike rack that is in front of the store, not hidden and I appreciate it!

This is not the whole group but there we are in all our glory. It's odd how most of us were on e-bikes. One of us was on a Counterpoint bike with his daughter in the front. I love the family dynamic on that kind of bike. I want Mr. Peyos to get one and bike around with the older kid.

Curious about the route? Here is the LINK to the complete route. I have cut it up just for you but we did the whole route. A group had audited parts of the route but they didn't ride it the whole way. For many of us who bike down here, this route stinks! SDOT throws us a bone with "infrastructure" and we are suppose to bow to the supreme beings there and say, OH THANK YOU!

Let's see how it works before we judge.

The route is pretty smooth and flat at the starting point (Rainier Beach Library). Before we started Dick Burkhart brought along the Seattle bike map from 1997. I was so afriad to touch it because I am sure I had toddler slobber on some part of my body.

1997 Seattle Bike Map
It was in mint condition and it also had an interesting route, oh wait, what they called the zig zag route is a better version of the current proposed Greenway route. Why are we reinventing the wheel? WHY? I am so glad to get to talk to him because 35 years of biking in the Rainier Valley is really interesting. I had a hard time not picking his brain. This was not a social ride but a ride to give SDOT feedback.

The route is flat from the library to Othello Park. This was enjoyable. Lookie, we go past the completed East-West Rainier Valley Greenway. Remember, I biked it with 2 kids so you don't have to. We did stop in the segment where we cut to Othello Park. It's a little island where people have decided to use it as car heaven. All that illegal parking is going be put out of commission. Move your car!
Free parking just for you

It's pretty boring and flat until we get to Aki Kurose where hell begins. Why do I have be so darn dramatic? For the first ride we went the old and not improved way across Orcas at 42nd Ave. Lucky us it has a flashing beacon. Not to fast, this beacon only flashed so that drivers going east can see it. It doesn't make much sense to put a beacon if drivers from both directions can see it. Does it work? NO!

Everyone in the group worked as a test dummy. If we got hit by a car then we had an SDOT employee to witness our demise, how wonderful. Several of us though, f--this, I'm going across anyway. I got across and served as the flashing beacon pressing button person. It's an offical title I granted myself, "Queen of the flashing beacons". Nobody cares. You could be wearing bright florescent paint on your naked body and nobody is going to stop for you.
Morgan of FamilyBike attempted to cross the street waving her hands frantically but nada. In fact, when she was asserting herself in the crosswalk the women coming at her in their car waved back. What is wrong with people? Stop your car at the flashing beacons. 

In any case, this was not even the worst part. On a related note the route got changed but it's not great either. It was a substitution for avoiding the next part of this route, a hill that is not funny.
The orginal route has us turn west on S. Findley. While it might be fine for people traveling north when you decided to bike south you have to pay the price with an 8% grade street with no sidewalk to walk on. The change reroutes north bound people to Renton Ave. S directly from S. Orcas but the sight line is pretty bad but many of us do this intersection VERY VERY carefully. I do not recommend you let your kids do this route on their own. Also, if you are new to biking and you plan to use it, don't do it. Maps don't give you the whole story.

The next segment we stopped I call "Five ways to die". I know, so morbid but this intersection has 5 points where drivers can mow you over. At night it is really really dark here.

Who knew death could look pretty

Here is the air view of the section. What does it look like on the ground?

That little piece of grass obstructs anything. Oh yeah, makes it super exciting when a driver comes rushing at you, woosh. Everyone was just making circles because we can. I know, exciting.

Then a change in the original map we turn on S. Ferdinand to get across Rainier Ave. This is okay because we go past BikeWorks. Hi everyone!
Stop complaining Shirley! On our second ride we suffered through very cold rain and sad wet children. I know, we did this twice. My goal is to torture as many people on this ride until we can just get a protected bike lane. It would be must more efficient and faster if we didn't have to ride this loopy loop route. 
I know, It's so confusing. Look at use making loops in the hard rain. This was real rain but where are the tortured children? They are right behind me. Aw, they got covered up by Mom. Hi Steve. Gordon is pretending that it's not raining which is adorable. The second time around we tortured 19 people. I lost track because people joined the ride and then disappeared. 4 kids got so soaked. It was sad, so so sad.

This is part of the group waiting for the light to change at S. Ferdinand and Rainier Ave. None of us had the magic ability to trigger the light so someone biked over to the push button and begged it with a finger, not the middle one. 

Another wacko hill. It doesn't look bad but we know better than you 7% grade. All ages road means all ages, not just 20 year olds who are not carrying wiggly screaming toddlers or wiggly screaming tweens who will REFUSE this street. 

Then the icing on the cake 13% grade road! This is what death looks like from the top.
Yes folks, that's the top of a tree. Look at all the parking everywhere. Looks safe to me. 13% GRADE ROAD!!!

The rest of the ride was not as dramatic but this section illustrates our inability to escape the Rainier Valley. Hillman City to Columbia City is a big barrier for people who just want to get out. It only makes sense to put a protected bike lane on Rainier Ave. 

How many SDOT people do I have to take on this segment so you get my point? This is a brutal route. I hate when people say how they bike down here occasionally. They don't even know the half of it. Seriously, come out and join me on another ride and I won't slow down for you. We aren't going to go on Lake Washington. I will take you Rainier Ave. For the second ride that is what we did riding south. I was not joking around. 

I am so tired of the south end completely neglected. I only stay with Seattle Greenways because they take me seriously. Telling people how difficult it is for families to access the rest of the city just produces blank stares. Riding with some seasoned south enders has shown me that we are not alone in our routes and desire to have safe connections. 

We want to access the city completly, stop keeping us trapped. In the meantime I will take my kids on these rides regardless of the weather. See, REGARDLESS!!

Pretty soon he is going to need a real place to practice his circus biking. COME ON!!


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I have an email ADDRESS..WHAT HAVE I DONE?

Donuts! Just to mess with your mind.

In the interest of NOT clogging up my email with a combo of stuff I have created an email for bike advocacy stuff.

I am now wading in the waters of bike advocacy.


Here is my email if you want to know the following:

-Hey, when are we going to get a protected bike lane on Rainier Ave.

-You want to tell me your harrowing story about trying to bike in the Rainier Valley and not die.

-You want to donate to FamilyBike. You know you want to.

Don't bother me with anything else, I will ignore you!

Shirley/No Spandex Required

nospandexreq at gmail dot com

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Give Big to FamilyBike

So proud, bike up 31st Ave. S. Downtown Seattle in the background.

My entry into cargo biking began alone. My daughter was 3 and I had a internally geared 3 speed bike. I know, who rides on that with a trailer? I did. I didn't know any other person who was biking with kids on the crazy hills and Seattle Family Facebook wasn't even a thing. On a particular Friday in 2008 I was biking East through Sam Smith park making my way to the I-90 tunnel and there she was. Who? Morgan Scherer. We were in a hurry to get home for Shabbos but her and her bike fascinated me. Did I finally meet someone who also bikes with kids? YES! That brief encounter always stuck with me. On all my rides I was motivated knowing she was out there riding with kids.

I was motivated to ride from that brief encounter. Later on I found her again through BikeWorks. This time I had a reason to track her down. Turns out Morgan was head/person in charge of a non-profit called FamilyBike. Don't confuse it with FamiyRide. I know.

After paying my dues and killing myself biking with a trailer and the heavy Oma bike I came to the realization that I needed a cargo bike. In order to help me make this decision I rented a Madsen from FamilyBike. I had a joyful two weeks of fun.

You can rent this too, it's FUN!
Much like me, FamilyBike other people have a similar story. FamlyBike has paved the way for people to decided what works for them.

Not only that but FamilyBike has leads rides throughout the city for FREE, helping others to meet each other, encouraging us to bike more.

So, why so much about FamilyBike?

For one, I am now on the Board of Directors. Hooray for me!

Also, I want you to give tzedakah (charity). It's good for you. Currently we are in search of awesome people who want to encourage more biking. Become part of our Sustainer's Circle. Yes, I am a a sustainer. You can give small amounts per month. How about $18 for month? CHAI! Let's get FamilyBike running so others can enjoy biking.

Click on the link and choose your level.

If you enter today (DECEMBER 1st) you get prizes!!! Everyone wants prizes! Even if you don't get prizes you can get discounts. Everyone wants discounts. In the end we will have a party for all Sustainers! Here is the low down:

10 Reasons to join the Familybike Sustainer Circle by December 1st:
10. You want to get more people biking, and know that Familybike’s programs are effective!
9.  You can’t wait to be entered into the drawing for prizes from 20/20 Cycles and the Electric Lady.
8.  You want to save money at G&O Family Cyclery! This family-focused bike shop (and more soon!) is showing their support by giving 10% discounts to members of the Sustainer Circle.
7.  Donating a small amount monthly is unnoticeable to you, but has a big effect on Familybike Seattle’s effectiveness.
6.  You want to join your friends at the Familybike Sustainer Circle THANK YOU PARTY at the end of January, 2016!
5.  You are a family biker, and know that supporting the one organization dedicated to your needs just makes sense.
4.  You like the feeling of coming together as a community to support something visionary.
3.  You know that Familybike is a young organization with a big impact, and you want to see what new projects can happen with some funding!
2. You believe that biking can save the world, and want to support an organization that believes that too.
1. You’ve rented a bike from the sliding scale rental fleet, ridden a Kidical Mass ride, taken a workshop, or enjoyed the bounty at a Family Bike Expo, (or want to!), and want to make sure these valuable services are available into the future and to a wider community!
You will help to maintain our existing bikes and hopefully in the future get more bikes. Rentals are on a sliding scale, people are not turned away if they can't afford to rent, family biking needs to be accessible, right! Check out all our sweet rides. We even have a Haul-a-Day. OOOOH!

Bike Escape: Fay Bainbridge Park 2019

I went camping without kids. How did I manage that? (insert shrug) One of the old time pedal parents went with me. Our schedules for this ...