Saturday, June 16, 2012

Valley Metro Light Rail and Brompton Love. . .

Bob and I traveled down to the Valley last Wednesday so that I could register for classes at Arizona State University, and he could begin his new job.  Registration and orientation was Wednesday night so on Thursday while Bob was at work I hopped on Valley Metro Light Rail and took care of some errands.
Outside the Central Phoenix Transit Center at Central and Van Buren.  Oh, so many palm trees.
When we first moved to Arizona 5 years ago, the naysayers predicted that nobody would ride the rail and that it wasn't needed.  Indeed, change can be difficult but  not surprisingly, ridership has far outpaced the original estimates.  I rode on and off shortly after rush hour through about 3 p.m., having purchased an all-day pass, and saw no shortage of passengers. 

One of the many sophisticated looking rail stations in Phoenix and the Valley.
Many, like this young woman at the Osborn and Central Station, combined bicycle and rail to get to their destination.

Rail riders and their bikes. 
And these two gentlemen, brought their bikes on board.  The cars are equipped with space to hang bikes but if they are full one can simply stand next to one's bike for the trip as long as access in and out of the car or through the seating area isn't blocked.  My cousin Angie found hanging her Electra too difficult to manage on her own and is looking forward to buying my Dahon this fall.  She looks so cute on it.

The perfect fold in pink and Turkish green, M-model.
A snazzy Mouton folding bike.
Speaking of folding bikes, among my destinations was Portapedal in Tempe.  I've been planning a trip for Portapedal for months in order to test ride a Brompton.  Owner Al and Donna Cappello's bike shop specializes in "high performance folding, travel and commuting bikes", and on Wednesday morning they seemed to enjoying brisk foot traffic through their store.  Besides Bromptons, they carry several other folding bike brands including Moulton and Tern, along with pretty much every accessory or upgrade you could imagine.  Very soon they will also carry Pashley bikes, which I look forward to testing.

Many colored Bromptons lined up in a neat, tight row.
Al and Donna delivered very personal service while I was there.  I tested two versions of the Brompton, the M and H models and discussed specs for my future bike (in Turkish Green).  I was surprised at what a difference the H model made in the upright positioning.  Other than the traditional Dutch bike to rode in Portland a few years ago, I've never ridden in a more upright position.  I certainly did not expect that in a folding bike.  I also felt absolutely no stress on my forearms during my test.  Perhaps what I like almost as much was how easily the Brompton can be rolled while in the folding position with the handlebar left extended. Yah, I will be able to roll it directly on to the rail car instead of lifting, a little tougher for a little short lady.

Me with the Brompton Commemorative Diamond Jubilee Bike!  Long live the Queen.
A treat before I left was a chance to see one of the limited edition Brompton Jubilee bikes, accessorized with a Union Jack S-Bag!  Brompton only made about 500 of these commemorative bicycles for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, and they were scooped up rapidly by bike shops.  I even got to wear a Union Jack helmet for this picture, taken outside of Portapedal.  Nice.

I couldn't leave Portapedal without Al and Donna's wisdom on biking in the Valley's scorching heat.  And it was hot that day, reaching a high of about 104 by the end of the day.  Al pretty much bikes through it all and Donna said that drinking plenty of water with an occasional Gator-Aide type drink is the key.  Water.  Seems nobody can stress that enough when it comes to biking in the high (but dry) heat.  They actually made sure I drank a bottle of water before I left, since I was walking to the shuttle stop for the ride back to the transit center where I'd pick up the rail back to Central Phoenix.  I will continue to gratefully accept water and advise from all seasoned Valley cyclists.


inspiredcyclist said...

Karen - you look great with the Brompton. I'm anxious to see your new bike, and read about your exciting adventures with it. And I enjoyed seeing the photos of the trains with bikes. It looks like a smart, clean, convenient way to get about.
I am totally infatuated with Bromptons! Seriously. Due to two injuries on my right side, and a recent move to an apartment, I am thinking the time might be right for me to purchase one as well.

She Rides a Bike said...

Inspired, we are renting a much smaller house than our Flagstaff home (which we're selling) and a small bike is definitely a plus. My main issue is the fold that allows the bike to be rolled rather than necessitating being carried for any distance as I had a herniated disk a few years back and fear aggrivating it.

The light rail is fantastic. The stations are clean, attractive and provide both seating and shade. On board, the cars are equally nice looking, air conditioned and comfortable. I noticed that people settle in and often open a book (or at least their Kindle). I hope to do my pleasure reading on the rail as my other reading for the next two years will mostly be focused on social work and mental health issues. SRAB will definitely include a focus on bikes and public transit, a huge urban ammenity that I'm happy to pay for. Downtown parking is quite expensive but ASU students are encouraged to use public transit. At $150 for the academic year, it's a significant savings over a parking pass and certainly frees up valuable parking for merchants.

Dottie said...

Exciting changes!

That light rail looks fantastic. I wish all mid-sized cities would get light rails - certainly it would hugely improve transportation in cities like Raleigh and Nashville.

So interesting to hear about the different kinds of Bromptons. The Queen's Jubilee bike is fab - I want! :)

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