What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It feels right.

"People ask me all the time why I’m riding a bike and they look at me like I’m crazy sometimes. I always tell them I do it because it’s fun or I’m doing it because of gas but the truth is I do it because it feels right." —Daniel (post on EcoVelo)

Yeah.. me, too.

I try to soften up my 'public persona' so as to not push people away by saying, "Well, Gee! It's just fun and ya feel good! And gee whiz, I save money!" All of that is true..I DO have fun and I DO feel good when I ride my bike- and I do save money. But really- it feels right. I feel greater appreciation and respect for a lot things when I ride my bike. (I'll let you fill in the blanks.) I do not have this kind of relationship with a car.

This respect is also why I get irritated sometimes when my bicycle/bike riding is treated as a toy or trick. No- thank you- this is my choice, not a side show. I am excited to share it with you, but please take it, and me, seriously.

Well, IN COPENHAGEN they..

Hopefully you're a Copenhagen Cycle Chic & Copenhagenize reader by now. I really try to not be a blog that just reposts everybody else's blog. But if you don't read the Copenhagen blogs already, here's why you should- when in a tiff about the "real practicality" of bicycles or when stealthily dropping hints, it's good to say, "Well, IN COPENHAGEN they {insert recent blog post}." Trust me- you'll surprise people. SO. Exhibit A:

How do you get to the beach in Copenhagen?

By bicycle! (DUH!)

Also, speaking of blogs I read. Over on EcoVelo, Alan is taking photo submissions of your cool commuter and will be giving away a pair of pedals as added incentive to submit. Check out the submission guidelines here. You'll also find pictures of my very own steed of steel.

Bikes and Buses are Beautiful: PARADE

YOU ARE INVITED to be a part of the "Bikes and Buses are Beautiful" group in the Walla Walla Fair Parade, Saturday, August 30, at 9:30am.

Our purpose: Raise the profile of bicycles and buses in the community.

How we'll do it: We're going to have fun on our bikes- all sorts of bikes. Ride your cruiser, your roadie, your fixie, your recumbent, your tricycle, your banana seater, your two-seater, your balloon tires, your skinny tires, bring your trailer, deck it out, rediscover ribbon and wear your finest skirt, your suit, your beach shorts or gorilla suit; and sound!- bring sound! bells and horns and other cheerful chimes. Are you a musician? I'll be turning my 6' trailer into a float and wish to tow a live musician! Bicycles are not limited to speed and spandex- bicycles are much more than that. They are creative individual expressions and practical means of transportation! Load up your panniers and trailers with delectables from the market- bikes - are - beautiful!

AND, for those interested- we will have a "precision" section at the front of our group, cycling in patterns. Please meet the night before on Friday, August 29 at 7pm at Borleske Statium parking lot (Rees & Park St.) to practice. What fun.

For those wishing to tackle a big project in decorating their bike- keep an eye on this blog in the weeks leading up to the parade. We'll get together and have some paper mache fun.

And not only are bikes beautiful, but so are BUSES! We will be escorted by 2 Valley Transit vehicles- a trolley and natural-gas powered bus. They will be filled with energetic passengers (could be you!) and we'll also show how to load and unload bikes on the front of the bus.

Logistics: Parade starts at 10am, please show up at the start (5th & Alder) at 9:30am to organize. We'll establish groups, go over details and do a demo of the bus bicycle rack. Participants must be 18 & older and helmets are encouraged.

Ready for the fun?: Email ww2020 (at) charter (dot) net and jensenrs (at) gmail (dot) com and let us know how you'd like to participate. Questions can also be left as comments on this post.

Bus participants should call or email Gail at 525-9140 or gail (at) valleytransit (dot) com.

For more information, call or email

Rebecca Jensen (RJ) at 509 205 1430, jensenrs (at) gmail (dot) com

Dan Clark at 509 522 0399, clarkdn (at) charter (dot) net

Andy Pryor at 509 525 7163, apryor (at) gohighspeed (dot) com

Sponsored by the Walla Walla 2020 Transportation Committee, Sustainable Walla Walla, and Valley Transit, together with area cycling groups.





Don't be afraid to think big.. ;)

Special thank you to Willis & Toews for sponsoring costs of this event!

Bike Thyme Goodness

Wow, what a wonderful Bike Thyme we had this last Tuesday. We stopped for blackberries, admired our beautiful foothills in the early evening sunlight and ended at the Whitman Organic Garden for a lovely tour of lively flowers and produce. All this is wonderful already, but add the endorphins produced from pumping pedals and fresh summer air and it was all the lovelier.

Bike Thyme is a Daily Market Cooperative interest group that is open to the public. Bike Thyme meets Tuesdays at 6pm at 1st & Main St for "spandex-free, picnic-pace bicycle lovin'." Bring dinner- I'll carry it in my cooler! We ride about 9 miles with a break in the middle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Good Day Aboard a Bicycle

Last Sunday I left the house at 9:30am on my bicycle and returned around 5pm. Even including getting lost, running out of water and bloodying up my knee- it was a good day aboard a bicycle. This, to me, is what summer is all about. Getting gloriously lost.

Leaving Walla Walla behind, my skinny tires leave squiggles in the gray gravel. (yes, I rode my roadie- 23m!)

Long rides tap into both my athletic and artistic self. I test my endurance while being captured by lines and curvatures.

I am also captured by veggie sandwiches, cowboy cookies and chocolate milk.

I left Dayton by gravel of course. I pretty much went looking for the gravel when I mapped out my very tentative route. Gravel gravel gravel. I love the slippery slide of gravel.

Sunflowers. When you run out of water, it's good to have sunflowers to cheer you up. (Don't worry, I found a garden hose.)

This looks like it goes home, doesn't it? It took me to Prescott. Close enough. I got home eventually.

And it ain't an adventure unless you come home dirty and bloody, right?

Well, I didn't really MEAN to bloody up. But alas, it happens. Oops.

It's summer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conduct this experiment

Conduct this experiment:

1. Stand at a street corner with a pen and paper and tally in separate categories how many automobiles you see carrying 1, 2 and 3+ people. Also include one category each for buses, motorcycles and bicycles. Stop when one of your categories hits 50.

I stood, just now, at the street corner of Tietan St. and 2nd Ave with a pen and paper. These are my results:

Automobiles carrying 1 person: 50
Automobiles carrying 2 people: 10
Automobiles carrying 3 or more people: 3
Buses: 2
Motorcycles: 2
Bicycles: 1

A lot of those drivers looked absolutely capable of riding a bicycle.

Where are you going and what are you doing that requires a large, heavy, oil-fueled smoggy contraption to move you from A to B? 40% of American trips are within 2 miles of home! And if you're in Walla Walla, you're rarely moving more than 5 at a time.

Tell me, do you really need something as complicated as a motor vehicle to get you to the coffee shop?

2. Go to the Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge map to find what's in your 2 mile radius. If you live in Walla Walla, type in 1st & Main St.-- voila! Just about all of Walla Walla is in a 2-mile radius.

3. Ride your bike to the coffee shop!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bike Thyme - Tues, July 28

Bike Thyme
Spandex-Free, Picnic-Pace Bicycle Loving.

Bring a picnic dinner: I'll carry it in my cooler!

This week we'll be ending our ride @ the
Whitman Organic Garden, so bring some garden gloves if you'd like!

Wish you had better bike lanes?: Start a conversation! Don't just mope.

From Duane Cole, Walla Walla City Manager re: my inquiry about bike lanes (see my previous post below):

Ballot issue in late nineties reduced funding. This city has about seventy percent of the funding available in my last city and about forty percent more roads. Until additional funding is available there will be few dollars available for improvements. I have some ideas on additional funding but these were declared not constitutional by the state supremes. There will be another run at this perhaps in the next legislature. Fixing traffic lights almost failing was the last emergency. Where do bike lanes fit-lower on the priority list. The bike folks could help by plugging into the long term solutions. Duane

My reply:

Thanks for your reply, Duane. I know that this is a concern of yours as well. Tell me how I can be the most effective help and I'll do my best. You mention long term solutions- how can we do this?

Thanks again,


Dear Duane,

To: Duane Cole ( dcole@ci.walla-walla.wa.us )
City Manager of Walla Walla

I'm sure you're already aware, but I would like to officially bring to your attention my serious concern about the state of our bike lanes in Walla Walla. Without outlining the problems in full detail, these are just some of the issues:

-Large sections of the bike lanes are severely faded if not erased completely- how are drivers supposed to be aware of it?
-As a bicycle commuter, I regularly find potholes filled with gravel in my path- a serious hazard to a cyclist. Hit one of those, fall into traffic and you're dead. These holes remain unmarked and unchanged for weeks at a time.
-Glass appears to be swept on only a seldom basis.
-At some intersections, the bike lane continues right up to the crosswalk instead of to a bike box or merging back into traffic. This poor design puts bicyclists in great danger of the too-common "right-hook" incident, when a right turning vehicle hits a bicyclist in the bike lane.

I understand that the bike lanes were originally funded with grant money. I also know that money for improvement is scarce since, ironically for cyclists, road improvement is funded by gas taxes which have declined seriously since people started driving less. But what I am asking is not necessarily to increase funding for bicycle infrastructure (though, it would be timely to increase that budget), but to move bicycling infrastructure higher up the priority list. Bicycles are not guests to the roadway- they have a right to the roadway- and bike lanes should not be treated as a "nice amenity" bur rather a regular part of the roadway and treated with equal importance. Bicyclists already face greater risks when in a traffic collision, and more bicyclists are getting on the road then ever before (and there will only be more!)- so doesn't it make sense to provide a bicycling infrastructure that is as safe as possible, instead of less than adequate?

I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue.

Thanks for your time,

Rebecca Jensen

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dave Matthews - "Too Much"

Straight in, suck up and go,
Cool it, swallow, swallow
Breathe deep, take it all
It comes cheap
Push it through the doors
Because in between the lines
I'm gonna pack more lines
So I can get in
Ooh traffic jam got more cars
Than a beach got sand
Suck it up, suck it up, suck it up,
Fill it up until no more
I'm no crazy creep, I've got it coming
To me because I'm not satisfied
The hunger keeps on growing

I eat too much
I drink too much
I want too much
Too much

I've got to get it somewhere
I mean, you never know, maybe you're dreaming
Who do you think you're watching
Who do you think you need
Play for me, play more,
Ten times in the same day
I need more, I'm going
Over my borders
I'm going to take more, more
From you, letter by letter

I eat too much
I drink too much
I want too much
Too much

I told, God, I'm coming
To your country
I'm going to eat up your cities,
Your homes, you know
I've got a stomach full its not
A chip on my shoulder
I've got this growl in my tummy
And I'm gonna stop it today

I eat too much
I drink too much
I want too much
Too much

Suck it up...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bath time for Xtracycle!

It's a naked Xtracycle!! Don't worry, my Xtra doesn't mind showing off.

Another Proud Xtracycle Load

` * Ta DAAA!! * '

Sometimes I just wish I could ride my bike around and have it be normal. Sometimes I don't want to make a big deal out of carrying a load by bicycle. After all, I don't do it as part of a sideshow circus act- it's my normal way of life and I wanted it to be treated as such. We don't say, "WOW!! Lookit what you fit in your CAR!!" every time you load something in your car, do we? Well, I think I've proved my point by now that I can carry most things on my bicycle, so stop being so surprised!

On the other hand, sometimes I do feel like puffing my chest and announcing, "Hey, look at me!" This usually happens when I carry something "unusual" on my bike or when I'm having a moment of "gee, I sure hope I can fit this on my bike or I'll be embarrassed," only to discover that it loads beautifully. This is one of those moments.

I  stopped at two different thrift stores a few days ago and made purchases at each. At Goodwill, I was delighted to find an "Xtracycle shaped" water jug AND "Xtracycle shaped" soft cooler! While I've had no problem carrying traditional-sized coolers around, these slim rectangular ones are a perfect fit. I also picked up an external frame backpack, a find I can never resist. I have affection for external frame backpacks. Oh, and there was also a precious wicker picnic basket that could not be left behind. :)

Okay, so I had loaded my purchases no problem and then I rode past the Humane Society Thrift Store and saw a darling cruiser asking to come home with me. This is the moment where I thought, "hmm.. am I going to be able to bring home all this AND a bike?" Well, the way it is with thrift stores, it might be gone when you come back- so I bought it then and there in the hopes I could bring it home no problem.

And, TA DA!! - I did. :D

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Xtracycle in town!


The newest Xtracycle in town. :) 

I just had to sound the horns for Clark's new Xtracycle. He reports that he's already given a ride to his wife to the gym! Congratulations, Clark, on your healthy newborn Xtracycle. Cheers to many more Xtracycles in Walla Walla to come!

Hip, hip, hooray!

Riding safely: side visibility & Rock the Bike's Down Low Glow

I always knew I had a shining personality, but now, thanks to Rock the Bike-- I now glow. Quite brightly.

A short video on side visibility by Rock the Bike. See the comparison for yourself!

So not only can you see me in your headlights. (That's reflective tape I glued on the side of my Xtracycle bags, available at Identi-tape. You can purchase a reflective safety triangle at your local bike shop or at Adventure Cycling.)

But now you can STILL see me when I'm not! (It's even brighter than the picture looks.)

I spend a lot of time on my bike. Think of all the times that you or a friend gets into a car to go somewhere. Right, I don't get into a car- I get onto a bike. So I am particularly invested in being as safe as possible on my bike. Something that was brought to my attention was the issue of side visibility. A regular bicycle commuter knows to have a red light on the back and white light on the front of their bike.. but these lights are often, if not always, only visible from the front or back. What if a car driver can only see your side? Enter the problem of side visibility, enter the solution of Rock the Bike's "Down Low Glow" lighting system. It's a simple tube that can be popped on and off your bike, is weather-resistant and runs on a rechargeable battery. Oh, and it's dang bright. www.rockthebike.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bikeosphere - Fashion Show on Bicycle

The catwalk got wheels..

Wow, wouldn't it be great to have a hip enough bike culture in Walla Walla that we could put on a bicycle fashion show such as this? I appreciate that Lance Armstrong put the sport of cycling on the American map, but competitive cycling isn't the only way to enjoy a bike. But Lance is making up for it- he opened up a commuter focused bike shop this year in Texas. It's called Mellow Johnny's for the 'American' mispronounciation of maillot jaune (sp??), the "yellow jersey" in French. They even provide showers for bicycle commuters! Thanks, Lance. Check out the shop site here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bike Thyme - Tues, July 22

This week's bike Thyme will take us south of town where we'll do a "lollipop" loop and stop to relax at Prospect Point elementary and enjoy our picnic snacks and dinners before ending at Daily Market.

Bike Thyme, meets Tuesdays @ 6pm @ 1st & Main St.
It's a casual, no-rush ride.

Things to bring:
  • Your not-so-speedy bicycle
  • Your helmet
  • A snack or picnic dinner (I'll be toting an ice chest to keep it cool)
  • Water bottle (I'll have extra water for refills)
  • Sometimes it might be dusky when we return, so it's smart to bring at least a flashing red light for behind (a front white light is also very good). I recommend the Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash - available at your local bike shop for about $20, but well worth the money!
  • Your friend
& be ready for a great time!

..I'm going to see if I can get my stereo working with an Ipod so our sound system won't skip. :)

Introducing: BIKEWallaWalla

This Saturday I rode out to the Farmers Market with a table (thanks, Linda!!) and bundles of bicycling information in tow. Lucky me, I got to set up right next to Daily Market Cooperative, my favorite booth, of course. :) One of my goals was to collect some signatures to support bicycling infrastructure and facilities in Walla Walla- more specifically, bike lanes. I printed out some pictures of the current state of the lanes and they proved themselves to be very convincing in winning support for REAL lanes (as in, lanes you can actually see without using your imagination). I also brought, of course, my Xtracycle- which started many conversations, as usual. I was also glad that I had some pictures printed out from Copenhagen Cycle Chic of moms in heels pedaling bakfiets with kids inside. They helped me to make some good points.

While this week's booth was put together at the last minute, it was an overall success and I came away with lots of ideas on how to make it better next week!

Thank you all who signed up to support BIKEWallaWalla. We're going to make this a bicycling friendly town!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yehuda Moon comics

(Click the image for a larger version.)

Visit www.yehudamoon.com for more.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bakfiets in the US!

Okay, okay- so this whole bakfiet (cargo bike) thing is cool- but can we get them locally in the US?

YES. At Clever Cycles in Portland, OR.
Or, Hayley Tricycles in PA. (These ones are beautiful.)
The Dutch Bike Co. in Seattle also imports them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Bike Lanes!

Here's a tour of the bike lanes near where I live!

Here is the bicycle lane symbol. It is a picture of a stick man riding a bicycle. You have to use your imagination a little bit.

Oh, gosh- another cycling man symbol! Can't you see it? And instead of a solid reflective line between me and traffic, there are spray paint dashes.

Sometimes they tar right over the bike lane line.

And sometimes they dig large holes and spread gravel all around.

Hmm.. I wonder how they do it in Copenhagen..

Photos from Copenhagencyclechic.com

Hmm.. why am I not so excited about my bike lanes anymore?

Listen for me tomorrow morning!

Thursday morning at 7:30am I will be interviewed by Andrew Holt of KUJ 1410AM/99.1FM. The former is a news/talk station that I could not find a live internet stream for. The latter is a contemporary/Top 40 station and you can find an internet feed by clicking here.

Asking me to talk about bicycles is like asking a cow to eat grass. It's what I do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bike Thyme Success!

We had a wonderful time tonight.

I showed up a bit late (sorry!) since I had work right up until (and a tad after) 6pm. I think I was forgiven as soon as the boombox, ice chest and water cooler that were strapped to my Xtracycle were appreciated. We rode nice an' easy out to Bennington Lake (Jack Johnson accompanied us)-- ate our snacks & dinners there with friendly conversation. We adventured down the gravel path which lead us to the Mill Creek multi-use trail and coasted back to Daily Market under a red sun. We topped the night off with some strong lemonade (again, my doing- sorry!) made from Daily Market products and said, "see you again next week!"

We hope you'll join us. :)

Bike Thyme
  • Bicycle riding at a friendly pace. 
  • Cruiser, commuters & vintage bicycles encouraged.
  • Bring snacks &/or dinner (I'll carry it in my cooler!)
  • Depending on the week, there may be destinations like Bennington Lake, Welcome Table Farm and more!
  • Other good things to bring: helmet, water bottle, bike lights in case it gets dusky.
Rides meet: Tuesdays, 6pm (sometimes I'll be late) @ 1st & Main St. downtown

Tonight's Bike Thyme Ride

For tonight's Bike Thyme ride, we'll be riding out to Bennington Lake to appreciate the water and have a snack* or picnic dinner*. On the way back we'll stop at Pioneer Park for more water and relaxation if the group is wanting. We'll end at the Daily Market Cooperative office for organic lemonade with Klickers strawberries to kick off our first Bike Thyme! Also, there's Open Gardening at the Whitman Organic Garden. I'll be heading over there afterwards if there's time and ya'll can join me!

*Please bring your own snack and/or picnic dinner. I have room to carry it on my bike if you don't want to carry it the whole way.

Bike Thyme meets: Tuesdays, 6pm -@ 1st & Main
It's spandex-free, picnic-pace riding.Ride your commuter, your cruiser, your classic, your roadie.. ride whatever ya got!
Just please wear a helmet because we don't live in the Netherlands.

This is a Daily Market Cooperative interest group that is open to the public.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How to turn your bicycle into a COMMUTING bicycle

This is my bike. It is a special bike. While the prominent feature is its useful carrying capacity (200lbs), there are lots of little, but important things that make my bike a commuting bike.

FRONT LIGHT. If you're going to commute by bicycle you should be prepared to ride in low-light conditions. A good light helps you not only to be seen, but also to help you see. I have been very happy with my Blackburn Voyager 3.0. For $30 at your local bicycle shop, you get a lot of light for your money. The only downside is that the "blink" mode makes me nauseous and I only turn it on briefly to catch the attention of oncoming drivers in very dark conditions. Otherwise I leave it on the "steady" mode and I love how it lights up the roadway for me (for not very much money!). It also mounts easily and I carry extra AAA batteries in case it dies mid-ride.
UPDATE, April 25, 2009: The Blackburn Voyager 3.0 initially provides a lot of light, but it's a "battery eater!" I am currently using a PrinctonTec light that has 3 mount options: helmet, handlebars, headlamp. I am also eyeing a Cat Eye light that my friend has. Keep an eye on the "gear reviews" section for an updated light review!

REAR LIGHT. Again, a commuter must be prepared for low-light conditions. Not only can a white front light and red rear light save your life, it's actually the law. I outfit my bike with two Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash rear lights which I love. They are the brightest red lights I've seen and come with an eye-catching crazy blinking option (bu-bu-BLINK!#BLINK!%, bu-bu-BLINK!#) as opposed to a rhythmic (blink. blink. blink.) that's easier to miss. They also mount really easily. It's not in this picture, but I've also added a safety triangle to the back of my bike which increases my visibility any time day or night. The reflective orange tape was also my addition and it is extremely reflective. I also used it on my Bikes at Work bicycle trailer. You can find some online at Identi-tape.

PUMP. A hand pump is part of the complete flat kit. If you're going to commute by bicycle, you need to know to fix a flat tire. The things I carry to fix a flat are basically: something to get the tire off, something to patch a hole, a spare tube if that doesn't work out and air to pump it up. I also carry back-ups for some things (like 2 sources of air) in case one doesn't work out. More specifically, this is what I carry:
  • Pump. I like my Wrench Force frame pump because it has a large shaft which makes pumping up your tire go faster (forget those tiny ones!). It also works on presta or shrader valves and fits nicely into my frame (which is amazing because my frame is SMALL!).
  • 2 CO2 cartridges & an applicator. This is a fast, yet wasteful and risky way to pump a tire. I keep it as a backup or if I need to get back on my bike fast (rainstorm!).
  • Tire levers. You only need 2 (or sometimes 1) to get a tire off, but it is best to carry 3 in case one breaks.
  • A "old fashioned" glue patch kit and the "new school" stick-on patch kit. Either work. What can I say? I like back-ups.
  • An extra tube in case your tire is not patchable or you're in a hurry (rainstorm!).
To learn HOW to fix a flat, I recommend asking someone to show you how. I've also posted this helpful video.

MAP, ADDITIONAL VISIBILITY & RAIN GEAR. Having an Xtracycle sure is handy-- there are handy pockets for keeping handy things. I keep a bright yellow rain jacket (the sleeves zip off!), a safety triangle (I kept it in there for passengers but now it's just mounted on the back of my bike. I may purchase another.), a bright orange poncho I bought at the thriftstore for $1 (again, for passengers or perhaps to cover & protect a load) and a map of Walla Walla.

(NOT PICTURED): FENDERS. I take them off for the hot, dry summer months- but for the rest of the year, I keep my butt and feet dry by installing fenders! For complete protection, I recommend mud flaps to stay extra dry. I am also eyeing these rain chaps or this rain cape or this nifty rain cape and spats (scroll down) for the next wet season which I would then keep tucked away on my bike.

(NOT PICTURED): BUNGEES. I keep lots of bungees in different lengths to help strap on awkward loads.

 PEDALS. The folks down at Rivendell Bicycle Works are adamant that bike shoes & pedals really aren't necessary and don't actually help much (in non-racing use)-- though I do love using them on my racing bike. On my racing bike. Otherwise- these simple yet grippy platform pedals are wonderful for hopping on in whatever you're wearing.

(NOT PICTURED): KICKSTAND. Again, no one is racing, so there is no reason to "save weight" and neglect to install a kickstand! They are superbly handy when parking your bike and are of great assistance when trying to load your groceries!

CARRYING CAPACITY. There are lots of ways to carry things on your bicycle. That's a whole post of its own, but to brief you.. a front basket, a rack and basket, a rack and panniers, a bicycle trailer, an Xtracycle, a bakfiet or cargo bike, or a very large bicycle trailer for those XXL loads (like your mattress and box spring). Also note the gray tape on my bags. I used strong fabric glue to adhere some reflective fabric tape to increase my side visibility. I bought the tape from Identi-tape.

PASSENGERS. Okay, so maybe not everybody's bike can do this- and you don't really need to just to commute.. but it sure is nice to be able to take passengers on your bicycle! Another solution for larger parties is just to bring along another bicycle (or two, or three!).

If you can think of any other 'essentials' to bicycle commuting or have questions about anything I've listed, please leave a comment!

Oh, and since we don't live in Copenhagen, please wear a HELMET!

Dave Matthews Band - You Might Die Tryin'

To change the world, start with one step
However small, the first step is hardest of all
Once you get your gait, you'll be walkin' tall
You said you never did, cuz you might die tryin'
Cuz you might die tryin', cuz you...

If you close your eyes cuz the house is on fire
And think you couldn't move until fire dies
The things you never did, oh, cuz you might die tryin'
Cuz you might die tryin', you'd be as good as dead
Cuz you might die tryin', cuz you might die tryin'

(sax solo) I still remember I woke up and all ran away

If you give, you begin to live
If you give, you begin to live
You begin, you get the world
If you give, you begin to live
You get the world, you get the world
Oh you might die tryin', you might die tryin'
The things you never did, oh cuz you might die tryin'
You'd be as good as dead
The things you never did

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bike Thyme

 Bike Thyme
Introducing a New Way to Ride!

  • Spandex-Free riding at 'picnic pace' (that means slow!)
  • Will often include stops at local farms & eateries.
  • Ride length 45min-2hrs (with breaks!). 
  • This is a Daily Market Cooperative interest group, but it is open to the public and you all are encouraged to join! 
  • It doesn't matter what bike you ride: commuter, cruiser, vintage Schwinn.. just be sure that it's in good working order and also to wear a helmet. 
  • You're also invited to bring snacks  or your own picnic dinner! If you don't have room on your bike or want to keep it cool, I will be toting a cooler along to keep your dinner fresh!
If you have any additional questions, please email me at jensenrs (at) gmail (dot) com, thanks!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Interesting. Bike helmets & actual bike safety.

{Edit: Note that the percentages on the bottom are backwards left to right. 38% of trips in the Netherlands are by bicycle, whereas it is 0.1% in the US.}
My, now isn't this interesting? Some people (particularly Americans) are perplexed that there are people out there rallying against bicycle helmet laws. In a nutshell, bicycle helmet laws have a history of killing bicycle culture (decreasing numbers of bicyclists) and their effectiveness is apparently still debatable (though I believe mine works in certain situations). This argument also make a lot more sense if you're in Denmark or in the Netherlands. You see, there they have FANTASTIC bicycle infrastructure.. or perhaps I should say ADEQUATE. So isn't it funny that their cyclists deaths are a tiny fraction of ours in the US where we're obsessed with helmets? It looks like we're going after the wrong part of the equation to solve this problem.

Portland, OR has already taken a step in the right direction: installing appropriate bike lanes. In the photo below is one of Portland's new "bike boxes," an  area set aside for cyclists to pull in front and in view of cars waiting at an intersection to prevent the too-common "right hook" accident (a vehicle turns right into a bicyclist without seeing them). Unfortunately, Portland waited until 2 cyclists died to install this feature.

Will we wait for death?

Food for thought.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Appointed to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee!

Dear R.J.:

Congratulations! It is my pleasure to inform you that at the July 9, 2008 City Council meeting, you were unanimously appointed to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for term beginning immediately and expiring on December 31, 2009.

Portland's Bike Boxes- why not here? Or everywhere??

"..and it was stunningly clear that had it been in place on October 11, Tracy Sparling would still be alive, and it only cost the city a few thousand dollars."

This is what I'm saying! Does someone have to DIE before we get appropriate bike lanes? These sort of lanes should be the standard, not a luxury. Just yesterday Debi came across a scene where a bicyclist was hit from behind by an elderly driver. Perhaps if the lane were marked clearly through the intersection (as shown in this video), that driver would have seen the cyclist.

Visit bikeportland.org

Monday, July 7, 2008

Community Sustainability Forum

Do you want people to choose bicycles? You have to give them the FACILITIES to do it FIRST. You don't force them to ride in dangerous conditions and THEN provide them.

Tonight I attended a community sustainability forum and I posed the question to Duane Cole, our city manager:

One way to be sustainable-- is to ride a bicycle. In Copenhagen, they have this figured out-- because of their government. In Copenhagen, the busiest bike lane sees 35,000 people in a day. 30% of trips are made by bicycle (which trumps Portland's 6%). These trips are made in suits & dresses. A website, Copenhagen Cycle Chic, is dedicated to artistic photos of women in heels, tall boots and dresses-- riding a bicycle. This is normal. They're not poor or technologically behind-- just smart.

But it hasn't always been this way. It's not, "oh, the Europeans, they've always been like that!" In the 1960s there was an 80-90% DECLINE in bicycle use due to pro-car policies and popularity. Then the government decided to triple their bike lanes and create progressive bicycle infrastructure (such as bicycle boulevards or advance lights for bicycles).

Now Portland, OR is Copenhagenizing by taking the initiative to make a practical, healthy, socially equitable and sustainable means of transportation safe and practical. Will Walla Walla take the lead like Portland and Copenhagen?

The reply I received was, "Yes." Too bad I didn't ask HOW instead of IF. That seems to me a cheap way to get out of actually answering a question. The halfway faded bike lanes in Walla Walla sure don't measure up to his answer.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Go, Mom & Dad! (Thanks, Debi & Jim!)

My parents have spent a lot of time cheering for me at soccer games and cycling races-- it was my turn this weekend to return the favor.

My mom  really was a trooper. It's been a long time since she's been on a bicycle and she was nervous about her sense of balance. We practiced in a parking lot before we left, took a few breaks on the way over, and she made it all the way to the Walla Walla Roastery at the airport. It was no easy task to ride 5 miles after so many years off the bike and I'm proud of my mom for challenging herself!

My dad, likewise, hasn't been on a bicycle in a while- but he has been looking at them online, in catalogs and bike shops! I think he needs to do less thinking about riding bicycles and spend more time actually riding bicycles. So I rented my parents bicycles! And, boy- it was obvious that he really belonged on a bicycle. I hope to see him do more riding..

It was also really terrific to have Debi along. Debi was very patient, as she still remembers what her first days back on a bicycle were like. She's also a terrific inspiration, because- dude, she's in her fifties and she's gonna ride over 200 miles in one day at STP!

Jim was also a great help. There are times when suburbans are very useful. This was one of them. I told you guys, I don't think cars are bad- I just think we could use them a bit less! ..and I just ride my bike all the time and do funny things like move out my apartment by bicycle trailer because it's fun.. Really!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Community Sustainability Form

While concern (or more appropriately, respect) for the environment is a large factor in my choice to ride a bicycle instead of drive a car, it's not something I really beat my drum about. First of all, there are many reasons other than the environment to cycle rather than drive and secondly, I don't want to scare anyone off by making them feel like bikes are for 'green people' and therefore not for them. My wish instead is to help bikes become for everyone. Heck, even in Amsterdam, a shining star of bicycle use- it's just normal over there, not a hipster or yuppie or hippie or green thing to do. A quote from today's post at Amsterdamize:
..the locals, [go] from A to B, to C, D, Z and back, ziggedyzag. Day by day, for every errand, for every task, for any venture, we take our bikes and we rule. Mind you, it’s in our blood, we don’t consider it a culture or something quaint. It’s there, we use it, period. We don’t know any better.
So there you have it. My real goal is to make bicycling a normal, fun, convenient, safe, hip activity. BUT, after this long disclaimer of sorts.. there's no denying that bicycling is much, much more sustainable than driving gas hogs for grocery runs. (I'm not against cars- I just think that they're overused. Driving 2 blocks to work is stupid- and yes, I've seen it done.) SO- that is why I deem it relevant to post this very important meeting happening in our community. I hope to see you there!

Are you concerned about the rising price of gas? Or about the rising price of food, and other basic needs? Are you hearing more about climate change and the need to transition to a low-carbon economy and community? Are you thinking about how we can sustain ourselves in an era when fossil fuels are unstable and will keep getting more expensive?

The Road Ahead-- A Community Sustainability Form, will be held on {!correction!}THURSDAY, July 10 from 6:30-9:30pm in the ballroom at Reid Campus Center on the Whitman College campus at Park & Boyer. 

Panelists will include:
  • Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Spokane, Susanne Croft
  • Whitman scientist, Bob Carson
  • Chamber of Commerce President, Tim Larkin
  • Port Commissioner, Mike Frederickson
  • City Manager, Duane Cole
  • Homeless Coalition Member, Noah Leavitt
  • Long time resident and householder, Jennie Romine
WWCC President Steve VanAusdle will moderate the forum.

For more information, email sustainableww (at) charter (dot) net, call 509-522-0399, or go online at www.sustainablewallawalla.org

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm in today's ClimateWire!

Robin Bravender of ClimateWire interviewed me the other day about my gas-free plans for the July 4 weekend. I looks like I made the lead story on the front page!

It also looks like you have to be a subscriber to read the whole story, but I'll just include the tidbits that I'm in so as to entice you to sign up for a worthwhile subscription.

Bicycle enthusiast Rebecca Jensen, 23, is planning to spend the day on a bike trip with her parents, "winery hopping" around Walla Walla, Wash., in the southeast corner of the state.

Jensen doesn't own a car and travels almost everywhere on her bicycle. She commutes to her job at a coffee shop on her bicycle and started a program at a community center teaching others how to fix their own bikes. She said since gas prices have increased, she has seen more bikes and "definitely more two-wheeled vehicles in general" out on the road with her.

"When I'm with people and they complain about gas, I do smile to myself, because I don't have to directly pay for it," Jensen said.

In a country famous for its love of cars, lifestyles like Jensen's are still far from the norm. Yet with gas soaring above $4 per gallon, industry leaders say a growing number of summer travelers are eyeing bike trips with new appreciation.

To sign up for a trial of ClimateWire, click here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Too few options?

Sometimes it helps to SEE to believe.

by Sightline Daily

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More bikes to fix!

A couple bikes have been been parked for over a year, unlocked and unmoved at the apartment building I used to live at. I finally inquired about the bicycles to be sure they were indeed abandoned. To my delight, I was given permission to haul them away and give them new lives. 

One is a Specialized Sirrius, a great commuting bike that's semi-upright, that I hope to fix up for my dad. The other is a Univega Safari Ten that would be nice for my mom, although I hope to get her something that's easier to shift, but this will work great for now. The pink bike you see on top is a Peugeot banana seater (I didn't know they made kids bikes!) that actually belongs to a friend, but will be receiving some greasy love as well.

I now have a growing collection of tired and neglected bicycles in the Toews'  basement, and it was high time to set up a work bench area! Fortunately the Toews already have some important features of a working bike bench including a bike stand, truing stand, a small collection of tools and a peg board! I have hopes of being a sort of bicycling Robin Hood- collecting bikes and redistributing them where they're most needed. Hmm.. maybe that's what I'll name by bike shop someday. Robin Hood Cyclery. :) I like it.
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