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Starting a Bike Train to help kids bike to school

What is a Bike Train? A bike train is a group of students and parents or volunteers who ride to school together, kind of like a carpool, but for people on bikes.  Some great things about Bike Trains include: Parents can share transportation responsibilities Reduce congestion around school by reducing the number of cars on the road Encourage healthy physical habits Build community A regular schedule helps get students to school on time Creates joy and independence She provided me with a bunch of resources, including this helpful step-by-step toolkit. We regularly rode to school before starting this activity.  With the help of Oakland’s Slow Streets, we’d already been able to realize some of the above benefits.  We’d see familiar faces on bike or on foot on the way to school.  The ride to school featured a good dose of […]

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Slow Streets: Biking to school on Oakland’s Shafter Avenue

It’s great to see kids biking to school There were so many kids biking to school on the Shafter Ave Slow Street.  I counted at least 11 kids on bikes on the 4 blocks that we rode through. It’s such a nice thing to be able to commute through these streets – streets that have not been prioritized for car traffic, speed, and throughput. These kids might have been driven to school instead if not for the slow streets.  It’s great to have a lower carbon and lower congestion alternative. About Oakland’s Slow Streets Oakland’s Slow Streets have existed since May 2020.  They are “soft” street closures that include small barriers (such as cones) and “Road Closed to Thru Traffic” signs.  There are no other restrictions, and the intent was to still allow for local car, delivery, and other service […]

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Bike lane on SE 42nd, Portland

Is this bike lane safe? (Riding to Creston Park)

I took my child to Creston Park by bike during our last visit to Portland.  Aside from a few issues (it was hot! and my kid wasn’t used to their borrowed bike!) the ride there was mostly pleasant.  We took some of the calm neighborhood streets and Greenways, and generally took a path along SE 34th, Clinton and SE 45th Ave.  I knew we’d have to cross Powell at some point, but I guess I had hoped that there’d be a decent way to bike across it since Portland has relatively (for the USA) good bike infrastructure.  I also figured that since there’s a park with Creston Elementary school nearby, maybe the city would have made provisions for easier biking to school and play. We saw another adult and children riding, presumably headed to the same destination, so asked if […]

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Poorly-locked Tern GSD e-bike parked at the library

Would you go find the owner if you saw a poorly-locked expensive e-bike?

  If you saw a nice $$$ bike that was locked poorly, would you let the owner know? And how? I was in a situation a few weeks ago, and was wondering what others in the bike commuting community would do.  I posted this question on Reddit, and will share some of the general sentiment of the responses as well. I rode with my child to the library to drop off a slightly late book (sorry!) and pick up one or two new ones.  I found this Tern GSD (I assume worth like $4k-$6k) locked to the bike rack. It’s a nice bike, so I checked it out for a while and then noticed some problems with the locking: The cable lock went around (not through) the frame and then through the U-lock. The U-lock was of questionable quality, and […]

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Protected bike lanes under construction on Milvia St in Berkeley, CA

Protected bike lanes on Milvia in Berkeley

  Protected lanes in Berkeley! I noticed a lot of new construction activity on Milvia Street in Berkeley a few months ago, after visiting Sports Basement and Missing Link in search of a new bike rack.  I was pretty excited to see that it looked like protected lanes were going to be installed.  Recently, coming back from University, it was nice to see the construction taking place around Addison, Center, Center, and along Berkeley High. Why protected lanes? I’ve asked a lot of friends what would make it easier for them to ride their bike more.  Most have answered that they’re scared of automobile traffic.  While painted bike lanes can be helpful, there’s not much preventing a distracted driver from drifting or veering into a bike lane and harming a person on a bike.  Protected bike lanes are great, because […]

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Red kid bike crew in Berkeley

A kids bike ride through Berkeley

 We went for a bike ride through Berkeley last week with some friends and kids.  Our friend’s child has a 20″ Frog 52 and we have a 20″ Opus Doppler.  Both red.  We enjoyed the Ninth Street bike boulevard and riding around the makeshift traffic circles (aka Healthy Streets Traffic Octagons)Third (and final, for now at least) Healthy Streets quick-build traffic octagon installed at 9th and Page! @CityofBerkeley https://t.co/Z2eIZVCGn9 pic.twitter.com/Kg8gbn7Z1C— Walk Bike Berkeley (@WalkBikeBerk) May 20, 2021The kids enjoyed singing, racing, playing games, and just chatting while riding, and I’m sure we’ll repeat this sometime in the future.We rode through West Berkeley and got food at Pollara Pizzeria and Tacubaya on 4th street when everybody got hungry.  Then we headed home. Or follow along for updates:

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Zebra tape bike

Zebra bike in Elmwood

I spotted this bike with a swirly-zebra-y custom paint job (actually, upon closer inspection, it looks like zebra tape) on College Ave last week near the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley.  I think it’s an old Iron Horse Maverick, possibly the 1997 model according to Bikepedia.  I don’t get the seat cover, and that tiny cable lock was giving me some anxiety, but maybe they were just stopping into a store for a minute.  The rear brake doesn’t look functional, but maybe that’s just fine for a beater bike! Or follow along for updates:

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Lots of flashing to clean up, but interesting results. Air vents and molding sprues can be seen here too.

Behind the scenes: Molding silicone shapes and using a 3D printer to create cavities

I’m trying to make riding bikes as a family easier for everyone.  One project that I’m working on is building a light to help keep riders (especially smaller ones) more visible when it’s dark. Making prototypes of flexible shapes While working on the prototype bike lights, I needed to make some flexible shapes to connect poles together and to act as a soft bumper to protect one from any pokey parts. After some research on DIY silicone molding, I found that silicone rubber is a relatively friendly material to work with and was easily to buy. I bought a small trial kit to try making some parts.  (I found that it seems way more common for people to use silicone rubber to create the mold cavities themselves, such as in this Makerbot tutorial.  Here’s an example of someone working on […]

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Morning drop-off on kindergarten rodeo day by Lars Ploughmann https://flic.kr/p/UhMoqA

School drop-offs and car culture

Having ridden the bus a lot as a child, I was surprised to see that, at least in the Bay Area, many schools don’t have school bus service.  When I visited our elementary school for a tour, I was surprised to see how many children were dropped off via car.  I was also impressed at how streamlined the process was.  There was a long line of 8-10 vehicles, and volunteers helped shuttle children onto school grounds and to where they needed to go.  Parents or other caretakers didn’t even need to leave their vehicles nor open the door for their children. I was impressed and also a little concerned.  We don’t own a car, and I was hoping that, given how mature and streamlined the car drop off process was, that there would be at least evidence of accommodations for […]

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Kids Islabike at Mount Diablo

Photo: An Islabike at Mount Diablo (and the kids bike ride that wasn’t)

We went camping at the Live Oak campground on the lower parts of Mount Diablo.  It was a pretty campsite, with lovely light that filtered through the Live Oak trees.  It was right next to plenty of hiking trails and Rock City, and the hills were golden and dry, typical of a Northern Californian summer.   (There was a lot of less-lovely Poison Oak too, which thankfully we avoided).  We lugged the kids’ bikes so they could romp around the campsite.  But the kids were much happier scaling rocks and trees rather than riding their bikes.  I’m not sure if they rode their bikes at all.  We listened to them play while appreciating the beauty of our surroundings.     It turns out that 3 kids (that I know of) had some version of the Islabikes CNOC16.  It was a remarkable, […]

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