27 November 2008

So much to be thankful for

I have been thinking about this post for a while - how thankful I am for my beautiful and solid bike, which takes me wherever I want to go. I'm thankful for the clever shed my landlord has given me for parking, and the spacious and ideal parking shed they've installed at my office.

I had more I wanted to be thankful for here, but I can't really remember now. My dad was in a bad crash on Tuesday night, he's ok and his passenger is going to be ok. That's all I can think about now, and I'm so very thankful they survived. Internet world, would you spare a moment for a [wish/prayer] for Jim's full recovery? He has all my thoughts.

Please go hug your family and tell them how much you love them.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

EDITED TO ADD: Jim is going to be ok, thank you all so much for your good wishes.

25 November 2008

Ode to English Bike Gear

Today is English winter weather - cool but not nippy with a cold, soaking rain. As I rode in, profoundly appreciating my
I resolved to break my guidelines and post another photo of yours truly, soaking wet and not looking particularly chic, but still out there in weather that kept most bicycles at home, all thanks to timeless English design that knows this weather inside out and backwards!

There was a certain affinity among the cyclists who were out today - they mostly all smiled at me, and I was grinning and splashing in puddles the whole way in (and getting drenched by passing cars). I got into my office, peeled of my jacket, rain trousers, and galoshes, and was completely dry underneath. Today is a good day.

(photo taken by a colleague, bag is open to fish out camera from dryness inside, this is our bike parking at work - something I intend to post about on Thursday because I'm so very thankful for this wonderful space, which is the only place I could take a photo that wouldn't get my camera completely soaked)

OK, a bit of not-really-fashion advice: my Barbour dates to my more active equestrian days and it is perfect for a cycling posture - sitting on a saddle with your hands in front of you. The more modern ones have 'handwarmer pockets' which is an important improvement. Get that style if you can. I wanted to take off the visor on my helmet because that's what the cool kids do, however today it was invaluable in keeping the rain out of my eyes. And I say I don't have Hunter wellies yet because I don't think it would be possible for my English colleague to rave about them more. She clearly adores them and they're trendy enough right now to be on sale soon. I expect to pick up a pair. I'd be interested in additional datapoints if anyone has worn them. Thanks!

24 November 2008

Have you seen "The Matrix"?

matrix trinity look on a bike bicycle winter coldI think her look is reminiscent of the character "Trinity", which is probably good for psyching one's self up to go beat that cold wind. Rawrrrr!

21 November 2008

There's no legacy in a throwaway society...

Thanks to my friend D for alerting us to a great NPR article on Worksman Cycles. It's really worth reading but perhaps the comments are even better. (that's where I got the title for this post)

20 November 2008

Winter Light

First thing I noticed was the drape of her skirt against her dark leg, then the grey mittened hands she was trying to keep warm.

When I spoke with her she graciously let me take her picture and I can show you her cute shoes, purple tights, and the lightness of the skirt which somehow makes this cold weather less horrible.

This morning's temperature 27 degrees "Feels like 16 degrees", winds from WNW at 15 mph, gusting to 20 mph (-5 degrees C, winds 26 km/h).

19 November 2008

Vélo Mademoiselle

small ladies bike
Because it's dark before I leave the office I don't get to take as many photos of cyclists. I still see interesting bikes. This bike is tiny and locked to a railing in front of her house. It has a little bit of a little Chanel thing going on with those pearls. I find the pink accents darling and it's hard to see but there is a little monster on her stem.

small ladies bike

18 November 2008

DCR Meeting Update: Status Quo

I attended the DCR meeting about the Craigie drawbridge and dam bridge last night. At first I was very excited; they welcomed our input and spoke about their commitment to pedestrians and bicyclists. The lead engineer on the project is an older gentleman in a dashing sport coat who reminds me of my great-grandpa, and the rough outlines of his proposal made a lot of sense.

However, over the course of the evening's discussion I grew increasingly agitated over the double-speak. DCR claims they want to accommodate cyclists so they're creating a consultant position and a profound number of new and resurected committees, all of which are slated to commence in the New Year. The plans for the project, however, are 90% done now and the input we can make is cursory and not actually welcomed. I left the meeting early, in anger, after the cute old engineer said, almost spitting in anger, that the plan doesn't include bicycles because the existing structure doesn't include bicycles. Viva le status quo!

Boston, I've always loved your respect for history and I wish you'd respect the future a bit more.

I hear that Marty Walz said it best, something to the effect of "The fact that you waited 'till the plans were 90% done to get input is unfortunate, and not the community's problem..." An important revelation in the meeting was the news that there will be dedicated bike lanes entering and exiting the project zone, so a failure to plan for this "vehicular" bicycle traffic will be glaringly obvious.

It is true that the project is a difficult one, there are a lot of humans to get across a very small space. The proposed design is excellent for preserving the space and minimizing the disturbance created by this necessary work. That said, I think there is still wiggle room to meet the needs of the community at large.

I'm very happy to have a blog, because I get to share Charlotte-the-Amateur-Engineer's Two Solutions for this problem.

Solution One: The Practical Solution
We move forward exactly as planned, however instead of widening the car lanes from 9'7" to 11", as proposed, we use that extra space for a dedicated bike lane. This will be status quo for the cars, the bike lane will do dual-duty as the buffer zone to the curb desired by the engineer, and will simply be wider and painted blue to indicate that it is for vehicular cyclists. The multi-use path will hold pedestrians, runners, strollers, wheelchairs, and casual cyclists, as well as vehicular cyclists looking to get from the Esplanade to the trail on the Memorial Drive side of the river without dealing with all the car traffic, which we know will happen.

Solution Two: The World-Class Dream Solution
We may still do the above, but we work on building a cantilevered path which runs along the back of the Museum of Science and connects both sides of the river. I'm envisioning it feeling a bit like the river side of European Parliament in Strasbourg. There would have to be a drawbridge or elevated bridge, but it need not be as robust as the Craigie drawbridge which must accept 18-wheelers. The Museum of Science could use this opportunity to create a real-world exhibit about the science of motion with displays about the bio-mechanics of walking, running, and cycling, linking science more directly to life through those plate-glass windows than in a diorama. These two parks in the Charles River Basin would be more directly connected and the training programs of all Boston athletes significantly improved, Boston's reputation as a walking city enhanced, and DCR would more directly fulfill its mission:
To protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources.

Wouldn't it be wonderful?

17 November 2008

Good Looking City Bikes

We watched this couple ride up to where my husband and I were enjoying breakfast.

Boston city bike
I love the his&hers black and pearl bikes; we'd already decided that if we had bikes made my husband wants a black one and I want pearl. They are living the dream!

Boston city bikes
The Broadway Bike has serious home-town cred.

Boston city bikes

14 November 2008

Cyclists who cross the Charles River - please read this!

I could almost have the most glorious route home - stopping along the dedicated bike lane on Cambridge Street to go to the fishmonger's, the green grocer's, and the Italian bakery - supporting these local businesses and providing my family fresh food. Then I'd head down to pick up the Esplanade to ride along the river and then across town to my home... It's almost idyllic, world-class even, except for the section by the Museum of Science which is the scariest cycling I've ever done in my life.

I'm not alone in regretting this section - the glorious paths along both sides of the river dead-end into this disaster.

Cambridge Route 28 Museum of Science
For me, this is the only place in all of Boston where I always ride on the sidewalk, due to the absolute visceral terror of being in the six lane road with freeway-speed cars. In the summer I don't even try this route - the sidewalks are filled with distracted tourists enjoying our fair city, as is their right, and even getting off and walking with a bike is a hassle to them (and me) as there's just no room.

Cambridge Route 28 Museum of Science

But it doesn't have to be this way, and the DCR could fix all that! They're even having a public meeting about it on Monday. I was very saddened to learn from MassBike that:
It is vital that bicyclists be well-represented at this meeting, as it appears that the DCR plans to shunt bicycles onto a narrow shared-use path rather than including bike lanes on the road.
We already have a narrow shared-use path and it doesn't work at all! Please come out and help support the development of a viable bicycle infrastructure in Boston. Please?

Craigie Drawbridge Museum of Science
Arrow points to the drawbridge in question. What we need is a path for pedestrians and a bike lane wide enough to allow bike traffic going both directions. It can wind around the Museum of Science, that's fine. If we need to find more space we can take it from the sidewalk across the road which connects one freeway to the other.

Photo Credits: Google Street View

Happy Friday!

Today is definitely a happy Friday!

I made a new friend today when I saw the pretty commuter from More Autumn and stopped her to ask on behalf of SunnyS where she got her helmet. Turns out it's a Bell Faction in Burnt Orange, with the Bell sticker removed, and that E is just charming. I look forward to continuing to see her on our commutes. E, I'll wave to you!

autumn cyclist purple orange gold Boston rain
She wasn't feeling too chic when I took her photo, but on a drizzly autumn Friday I think the purple, gold, and orange are perfect.

She's a bit like Snow White, you can see that darling little birdies follow her wherever she goes:

little bird on a bike bicycle

13 November 2008

Bikes as Personal Statements

Inevitably a truly customized bike will become a personal statement. I am certain that this bike is intended as an artistic comment on our world - and what a comment it is!

artistic bike
The tinfoil on the seat is the most intriguing.

Bicycles as rolling art are yet another way that they enrich our lives. There is high art and more kitschy art, but it's all antidote to the blandness that we're being spoon fed... (and I better get off this soapbox before I fall off!)

I hope this bike today made you smile.

12 November 2008

Strida Folder

Strida folding bike
Spotted at MIT and in the South End - the Strida folding bike. The man in the South End let us take his for a test ride and we were amazed at how smooth and comfortable the ride is. The belt drive keeps the bike clean (no chain lube) so it's easy to carry around, and small enough to hang in your closet. The only downside is that it all hinges on a single pin connecting the lower bar to the headtube. This possible failure mode made me a bit nervous, but not so nervous that I didn't enjoy riding the little thing! I guess it seems more like a transportation tool than a true bike, which I know sounds a bit odd.

10 November 2008

More Autumn

orange helmet bike bicycle
I see this woman nearly every day on my commute. I know I'm running late when I see her earlier, I think she might be having a rough morning when I see her later. This is the first time it's been convenient to get her photo - I always notice her moustache handlebars and gleaming helmet first, it took a photo for me to notice the racks.

07 November 2008

Autumn Glory

autumn leaves bike
Well, as they say, the early bird gets the... photo of the pretty bike with the pretty leaves and the pretty girl in front of MIT. I'm glad I resolved to rise earlier and photograph in the morning.

Would you call the color of her bike 'chestnut'?

06 November 2008

Standard Time

grey cyclist
Standard Time means that it is dark by the time I leave the office. What will I do to keep up this blog!? Dear readers, I will try to rise earlier to photograph cyclists in the morning. Any readers who want to contribute photographs are enthusiastically encouraged to do so!