Saturday, December 22, 2012

De-parting shot . . .

Right before the ride.
This shot was taken right before the Cycle Central Phoenix ride earlier this month. I had not idea Bob was taking a photo when I stuck my head in this frame.  For some reason it really cracks me up.  At least my nails looked nice.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Laid up and off my bicycles

A view from my coffee cup.
I stopped for coffee on campus the other day on what will likely be my last ride of the year.  I had knee surgery yesterday and unfortunately it also involved cleaning up a chip in my kneecap, necessitating that I keep all my weight off my left leg for about two to three weeks.  No walking without crutches and no bicycling.  At least I can say that it's was a sports related injury.  I spend yesterday in the green recycliner while the Planner Guy waited on me hand and foot, scolding me occasionally when I got up on the crutches for any reason.  I am not cut out for the seditary lifestyle and Bob knows it.  He reminded me before leaving for work today that I was, under no circumstances, allowed to even think about trying to walk the neighborhood on my crutches.  And yes, I did actually think about doing that very thing while lying in bed last night.  What am I possibly supposed to do for three weeks?  I'm really sad that my plans to at last explore the canal bike path are now foiled!  I might have to even rent a car for a week once school starts.  Yuck!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Saddle up!

Brooks B-18 Lady from the Unique Collection.
Not only did the Planner Guy throw (with the help of my cousin Angie) a surprise party for my 50th birthday but he also presented with a beautiful Brooks saddle (B18 Lady) from their Unique collection.  I'll attach it, or rather the bike shops guys at Slippery Pig will, to my Breezer Uptown 8.  I took both bike and saddle to Slippery Pig yesterday to have it installed but was greeted with a chorus of "Wait until this summer!"  They explained that it's too cold (yes, it does get cold, or at least chilly in Phoenix during the winter) to properly break in the leather saddle and that riding will not be a comfortable experience for some time.  They recommended waiting until this summer to mount it to my Breezer,  treating the saddle first with the prescribed conditioner and letting it soak in the sun between applications.   They said that in the summer heat, my saddle will be broken in for riding pleasure within two days.  I will defer to their greater wisdom, as they all have Brooks saddles on their bikes.  If anyone else has any Brooks saddle wisdom, your thoughts would be appreciated too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cycle Central Phoenix, Part III

City cyclists at CityScape.
I interrupted blogging this week to wrap up my semester projects.  Now, with the semester at last behind me, I sit down to continue my report on the middle leg of ;ast Saturday's Cycle Central Phoenix, a stop at downtown at Phoenix CityScape.

The vintage Dahon owner, unmasked!
First, I finally came face-to-face with the owner of the vintage red Dahon folding  bike that I see parked everywhere, an most recently up on a bike stand for repair at the Slippery Pig bike shop (someday I will ask the Slippery Pig guy about the oriins of the name since I don't see the bike connection).  He loves his Dahon, and as I've discovered, once you have a folding bike you are pretty much sold on having a folding bike.

Jeremy, that other Planner Guy.
The Planner Guy and I stopped and had a chat with another Planner Guy and Chair of the CoP Bicycle Initiatives Subcommittee, Jeremy Stapleton.  The cape he proudly wears is actually an Arizona state flag.

Tim, and stylish bike-riding companion - they rode a tandem.
I also met Momentum Magazine's Creative Director Jim Nissen, who, I believe, is a resident of very the  bike-friendly Tempe.  Jim gave me his card but his friend did not give me her card so I don't recall her name, but she was very nice and clearly a bicycle-style muse.

The Mayor, the Bike Coordinator and the Bake Lady.
I snapped a few pictures of Mayor Stanton with City Bicycle Coordinator Joe Perez and his wife Catherine, aka The Cookie Bitch, who is actually a very nice person, but clearly not a doormat.  I love her very short red hair.  My former hair stylist Melvin used to dye my very short hair that same color, and it was a bitch keeping the color up, but I am pretty sure Catherine's color is natural.  Lucky!   The Mayor said at the beginning of the ride that Joe deserves praise for all his hard work on behalf of bicycling in Phoenix, so I'm just going to give Joe that extra pat on the back in this post.  A day before the ride, I was pedaling down 3rd Avenue and pulled up at the light right behind Joe (okay, maybe I  raced to catch up with him) and we got to talk for several minutes about the future of transportation cycling in Phoenix.  Not surprisingly, public transit will be the glue that holds it all together, especially light rail, which we all need to support.  It's hard to be a great city without great public transit.

Okay, back to His Honor, the Mayor:  here he is with his helmet and sporty cruiser.  Mayor said Councilman Simplot is also a big fan of bike infrastructure so I hope to meet him on the next ride.  I wonder if the Mayor or the Councilman have ever considered organizing a community meeting/group ride focused on downtown bicycling initiative and infrastructure?   They could also do neighborhood meet-and-greets by bicycle.  My former boss, recently re-elected Louisville Metro 8th District Councilman Tom Owen, carves out a few weeks of every summer doing just that thing and they are very popular with constituents.  Tom doesn't take a police escort with him, by the way.  He doesn't even take his Legislative Aide; it's that low-key.

Winter fun in a desert!
CityScape might be suffering a little bit in terms of retail due to the down economy but it has a Starbucks (and I personally love Starbucks coffee and their stores, especially ASU downtown campus location, which has the best baristas ever!) and an ice skating rink.  Unfortunately, you can't see the ice skating rink from the street, which I consider a huge waste because what could possibly be more romantic and picturesque than strolling downtown after dark and seeing people skating?

I haven't spend much time in NYC but is their outdoor skating rink shielded  from pedestrian view?  I don't think it is.  Anyway, I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity because the rink was packed with people who looked like they were having a great time. Why hide all that fun?

Thumbs up for cops on bikes!
I've poke a bit of fun at the police escort thing but that's just because I think it reinforces the notion that bicycling is dangerous, which it is not.  I suspect the issue is one of concerns about liability at a City sponsored event so I understand the thinking behind it.  In truth, I love seeing police officers on bikes.  I think the public like seeing cops on bikes, too.  For one thing, police uniforms, and all their accouterments, can be a bit intimidating for the average citizen and, in my opinion, bicycles make officers seem more approachable, which I think they like.  When I lived in Louisville, I'd go to a lot of events at Waterfront Park in the summer and always saw children flock around bike cops, who not only looked very approachable but  really cool, too.  Maybe not as cool at Batman, but pretty darn close.

Is it really from Maine?
Whooo!  I am exhausted from all that typing, but the story doesn't end here.  Our last stop was an art fair near the Phoenix Public Library.  The booths were closed but the food carts were open.

It was soooo yum!

Can there possibly be a better way to end a bike ride than a lobster roll?  These would probably be great after ice skating, too.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cycle Central Phoenix, Part II

Fashion and bicycles at The Duce.
The Planner Guy and I set out on Cycle Central Phx with a pack of happy cyclists late Saturday afternoon, headed up by the Mayor, CoP Bicycle Guy Joe Perez and our police escorts on motorcycles and bicycles.  Our first stop was The Duce, a bar-restaurant-boutique-boxing ring (???) all in one.

Not my drink but it looks really good.

We hung out for drinks and chatting for about 20 minutes.  Frankly, I'm not sure what to make of this place.  It's going to take much more than 20 minutes so I will be back.

Mayor Stanton is clearly an extrovert, which is probably a desirable characteristic since nearly everybody want to bend your ear.  And snap your picture.  He rolls with both.

In the boutique section of The Duce, the merchandising suggests they fully embrace the cycle chic aesthetic.

And shabby chic, which I've loved since my late twenties since it's all about recycle and reuse.

This interaction drew quite a crowd. 
The Duce appears to be dog-friendly, too.  One of our riders enjoyed a little dog-love from a friendly Pitt pup.

Bob, possibly living out a childhood fantasy.  It suits him, though.
Bob and I weren't especially prepared for the inclusion of the boxing ring.  I'm not sure what to make of it or why they have it.  Bob really got excited about it.  Uhmm. . . so did the Mayor.

I got the chance to get a close up shot of the Boogud bamboo bike, referred to in the previous post.  The bamboo is from a farm down in Tucson but the bikes are manufactured locally.  Bob's been interested in bamboo bikes for a while now and plans to sign up with Derrick Loud to build one.  For every bike sold Boogud's partners in Kenyan will put a child in that country confined to a wheelchair achieve mobility.  Check out their website to learn more!

Finally, a cycle chic moment with Dorina Bustamante!  I love how she cycles carrying a little clutch bag!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cycle Central Phoenix, Part I

Me, a few minutes after we arrived.
Taking a break from my social policy paper, the Planner Guy and I set out on our bikes for City of Phoenix sponsored Cycle Central Phoenix late yesterday afternoon.  Our meet-up destination was out South Central Avenue at the Arboretum parking lot, where we were greeted by Mayor Greg Stanton's police detail, who would be escorting us along our route.  And, yes, the Mayor was our host, bike and helmet (it's safety first at City events, don't ya know) in hand.

City Bike Czar, Joe Perez, in the safety green t, explains the route and the rules of engagement before we head out. Mayor Stanton is to the right of the shot holding a helmet.
The Lycra clad and people in street clothes proved we can all get along.
John is one of the owners of Tempe's Bicycle Cellar, and hopes to bring a facility to downtown
Phoenix.  I see a really cool post on this subject sometime in the future.
I'm not one for head counts but I'd say several dozen people, all arriving on bike (ok, the Mayor did arrive by car but they are busy people almost always headed from one event to the next), which I thought was pretty impressive at similar rides I've attended in Louisville and Flagstaff quite a few participants arrive in a car with bikes loaded on a rack (sorta never made sense to me).

One of two journalism types interviewing participants.  I don't think they went along for the ride.
The press was there interviewing riders.  Good, good.  A little free publicity always helps the cause.

Guys, talking bike gear.  I've learned to stay out of these guy bonding moments.
High visibility footwear!
Some chic cyclists.
On top of City staff, there for cheerleading, technical support and fun, were riders representing all ages and styles of riding, from touring types, hipsters on single speeds, fashionistas and committed transportation cycling advocates.

I just love Marines!
All ages seemed to represented, too, including a proud Marine, proof if there ever was that bicycles on city streets really aren't a communist plot. 

Lining up to hit the streets.
Just what is he thinking about?
Catherine, aka "The Cookie Bitch" delives daily baked items to
the Royal Coffee Bar, which I will visit very soon.
Actually, whether or not it was intentional or not, there were no children in attendance so it seems adult events are just fine with CoP (a refreshing change from other places I've lived where all events must include a face painting booth and an inflatable, bouncy house as if adult cannot be trusted, left to their own devices, to behave responsibly).

A guy on a bamboo bike!  More on him later.
So, our route included two stops before our final destination, the Phoenix Arts Festival.  We pedaled down South Central back toward downtown, stopping first at The Duce, a bar-restaurant-boxing ring-boutique, and then at CityScape, a downtown pedestrian shopping and dining area equipped with an ice skating rink.  The Duce and CityScape stops are both deserving of their own posts and those will be up later in the week.

Bob and I were near the end of the pack.  A bike cop was just to the left of us.  You
can see a cop on a motorcycle several feet ahead of us.
In concluding today's post, I just can't say enough about biking with a police detail.  I have never felt so safe, and this is coming from a woman who rarely feels particularly unsafe.  On bikes and motorcycles, PD were like a team of Border Collies keeping us loosely contained within our part section of the road space and forming a protective barrier (of sorts) between us and the rest of the traffic.  I love biking around cars traveling at a safe driving speed!  Granted, I'm not suggesting I need to be allowed to just whiz through red lights but if PD is holding traffic at the intersection for us, I'm going to comply and run the light.  Naturally, in unless it's 9 3rd and Palm and the streets are relatively clear, I honor the red light.

Clever positioning of the headlight, too.

Speaking of safety, one of our fellow riders attached video camera to the front and rear of his bike.  His cameras seem to be equal part safety measure and creative endeavor.  I've been reading a lot about frustrated cyclists arming their bikes with camera to record potential bad driver behavior but I'd never met anyone who did it.

Besides, the cameras, isn't this bike so pretty?
Anyway, he's supposed to post his video later this week so if I run across it, I'll post a link here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Transportation policy begins with you, bike advocates!

Look closely for my neatly folded Brompton; recognize the Dahon?
First things first.  My semester is almost over!  One more paper to do, to be completed, with two of my classmates, is due at the end of next week then I'm free for the next three weeks.  I'll be recovering from knee surgery for most of that time but I'm looking forward to a chance to catch up on the lives of other bloggers and do some reading I never to around to this semester.

Cousin Angie and partner in crime.
Since I paced myself with respect to my last school assignments, I had time last night to attend the City of Phoenix Bicycle Initiative Subcommittee meeting at City Hall.  Ma cousine Angie met me there.  Just a couple of ladies on folding bikes exercising our civic duty to keep informed about what's going on with bicycle infrastructure in our city.  Streets Transportation staff presented on Phoenix's street classification system as it relates to bike infrastructure and other facilities and provided updates on the latest installation of bike corrals, bike lanes and multi-use paths and pedestrian bridges around town.

The big takeaway for me was that the challenges of extending and enhancing bicycle infrastructure in Phoenix is not only that of funding but of overcoming physical barriers imposed by decades of city planning that prioritized car culture.  In most cases, current and forward planning does not allow physically, financially or politically to rip out the in-place infrastructure, built up over some 40 - 50 years (probably much more) and put in  the outstanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure that alt transportation advocates and readers of this and other bicycle blogs dream of.  Especially when we live in a country (and certainly in Arizona) where ideas like community, collective responsibility and public good are viewed a threat to freedom and liberty and the path to community tyranny.  The fact is that a lot of people love their cars and don't think a bicycle is a viable transportation option.

For those of you who have not had the good fortune of being a public employee, news of a "road diet" or the elimination of curbside parking spaces for the installation of almost always are followed by angry phone calls and emails from business and property owners worried the financial impact of change, and people convinced the government is trying to take away their cars.  Occasionally, they result in threats of violence against elected officials and city staff.  I am not joking; this was going on long before the "Tea Party" crowd started shouting down politial candidates at public forums.

So what's a transportation cyclist who values locking up to an elegant bike corral next to her office more than shelling out $500 a year to park five blocks away to do?  Well, Grasshopper, consider the art of patience. Portland and Copenhagen weren't built in a day - and let's face it, they had the advantage of a much more collectivist-minded populace.  We need to be attending and participating in public meetings and forums on transportation and community planning.   City and county websites post the dates and staff really do want your input.  Probably a dozen people showed up for last night's Bicycle Initiative Subcommittee meeting, and that's not including staff and committee members.  In the world of public meetings, that's actually pretty good attendance.  And people asked questions and gave comment.  What else can you do?  Invite other potentially interested people to attend.  I invited three, and two of them showed up.  What else can you do?   Well, you, and I, can send emails to your elected officials and let them know how and why you support bike lanes and other alternative transit options.  I tend to focus on dollars and cents issues.  Biking saves me money.  When we bike to the Suns games, the money we save in parking is spent at nearby restaurants after the game.  The money I save on gas supports local artists, boutique owners and coffee shops.  Finally, we can all be a constant P.R. campaign for city cycling.  Without fail, people notice how happy I look on my bike.  Someone, mostly perfect strangers, remarks on that very thing to me nearly every day.  A couple of times a week, including last night after the meeting while Angie and I were waiting for the train with our bikes, someone asks me about how I like getting around by bike.  Love it, I say.  It's usually the best part of my day.  And it's true.  I'll never know how many seeds I've planted in the last four years but I certain that there have been one or two.

So, I'm done with my little soap box for the moment.  Just thought I'd share some thoughts from last night.  I learned Mayor Greg Stanton is leading a community bike ride on Saturday, December 8 beginning at 4 p.m.  I have a policy paper to work on but I might just go if I have the time.  The plan is to stop at the Phoenix Museum of Art and end at Indian School Road..  Helmets are required but hey, there will be food carts!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An impromtu bike tour: more Downtown Phoenix murals & the Bicycle Initiative Subcommittee meeting

Bob asked me to do a little office party Christmas shopping for him today, to which I happily agreed as it would give me a chance to visit a few places on Roosevelt Row that I've been curious about.  As it happened several murals were also nearby so I decided to take a few extra minutes to pedal around and capture them for your viewing pleasure.

I'll just add that when you're in a car it's much harder to just stop and admire them, what with having to hunt around for a place to park and all. 

As you can see traveling by bike allows the view a more up-close and personal art experience. 

Maybe I'll get the chance to mention that tomorrow afternoon when I attend the City of Phoenix's Bicycle Initiative Subcommittee meeting.  It's open to the public so if you are a Valley resident and would like to let your representatives (both elected and appointed) know that you think bike lanes, multi-use paths, bike corrals and other helpful bike infrastructure are worthwhile use of funds, please come on down. 

The meeting (rescheduled from November) is from 4:30 - 6 p.m. at Phoenix City Hall, 200 W. Washington St., downtown Phoenix.  The purpose of the meeting is to get Valley residents on bikes "by making biking safer, easier and more comfortable."  Sounds like a great idea to me.

Hope to see you at City Hall tomorrow night!