Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

One of the things that I noticed during my brief stay in Seattle was a number of colourful dockless bike share bikes scattered all around the University district, particularly around entrance points to the Burke Gilman trail. There are currently three companies that have provided 10,000 bikes as part of a pilot program. Several articles about these bikes appeared in the Monday edition of the Seattle times.

This article compares the three bike share systems, and the reliability of the bikes. Several things of note:

  • each bike was ridden an average of 0.86 times a day.
  • about 68% of the bikes were rideable.
  • The Limebike system has introduced e-bikes, which have their own issues.
  • brake cable cutting by vandals has been an issue.

SDOT is considering expanding the program to 20,000 bikes and making it permanent, while at the same time imposing higher fees on the vendors to fund things like more bike parking.

At the same time, the city parks board is also considering amendments to allow the e-bikes to be on trails such as the Burke Gilman. In practice, I already saw several of the Lime e-bikes parking or abandoned on the trail.

What do the bikes look like? Here is one of the Ofo bikes.



Apparently they weigh 42 lbs and have solid rubber tires.

Here is one of the Limebike e-bikes.



This article in WIRED discusses some of the issues that have arisen as part of this pilot, as well as some of the controversies about dockless bike share in general. It will be interesting to see how this all settles out.

Personally, I think that the system that I saw in Tokyo was a happy medium between docked and dockless. The bikes are still dropped off at stations, but the stations are wifi hotspots so that you can park the bike within a certain range, rather than counting on having an open slot in a docking station. In particular, I can’t get my head around how the Lime e-bikes are going to be recharged if they can be left anywhere in the city.

For the moment, dockless bikeshare appears to be dead in Toronto as I see fewer and fewer of their orange bikes around the U of T campus where they were first deployed.

On a side note, they have ghost bikes in Seattle as well; this one is at 16th Ave and 65th St.





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This past weekend, I rode Seattle to Portland, a ride I also did in 2016. Two differences this time, leading up to the ride: the forecast was for beastly hot weather, and I decided to ride on my Brompton.

Here is Steve and I leaving his house at 5:45 am.


Riding down the Burke Gilman trail towards the start.


As we approach Husky stadium, we see more and more cyclists with luggage.


One last picture just before we start.


Off we go.


Skirting Lake Washington, it’s still nice and cool.


At the first rest stop in Kent, Kaiser Permanente were handing out cooling towels. They turned out to be really great on Sunday.


A sign pointing out the obvious.


Leading up to the major climb of the day in Puyallup. It was different hill than usual due to a road closure.


At the top of the hill, I see a group from the Major Taylor project, a program run by the Cascade Bicycle Club to introduce diverse youth to cycling. They were all over the course during the first day.


Lunch on the first day. It tasted better than it looked.


Right after lunch, we are in heavy traffic.


However, once we cross into Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we don’t have to deal with car traffic for 10 blessed kilometres.


Very peaceful riding, if you ignore the sounds of distant gunfire.


Coming out of the base, we hit an informal rest stop at Roy.


I took this same picture the last time: first sign showing the mileage to Centralia.


The city of Yelm put on a great rest stop where they were giving out free root beer floats and Gatorade. Just past the rest stop, I saw these Major Taylor riders on a Counterpoint Opus tandem that was towing a spare bike for good measure.


One of the things that makes the first half of STP really pleasant is a 14 mile multiuse trail from Yelm to Tenino.


After Tennino, there is this stretch along a railroad. It was very hard last time due to a strong headwind, but this year, no problem.


Just a little further along, we come upon this unfortunate scene. Several cyclists called 911. No one was hurt, but the car was still in flames as we left.


Arriving at Centralia College, the overnight stop for two day riders. The mist station was appreciated.


Fueling up for the next day.


This year we elected to stay in an Air BNB in town. It was a very scenic spot on top of Seminary Hill, which unfortunately entailed an additional climb of about 100m. The apartment itself was cute with many quirky details. Being a cyclist, I liked this toilet paper holder.


Getting ready to descend Seminary Hill at first light. The only things up at this hour were some roosters jumping the gun by crowing, and many bats having their last flight of the night.


Riding out of town during the golden hour.


This kid in the Weehoo trailer was playing tag with us all day.


Rolling hills between Napavine and Vader.


This time we had to stop at the world’s largest egg in Winlock


which was accompanied by one of the longer potty lineups for the day.


At Vader, I heard a kid say “this is the stop with the potatoes!” so I had to try some.


The short, steep climb out of Vader.


This is probably the slowest anyone has gone wearing an HPVDT jersey.


Medical riders wearing red jerseys were happy to supply pain meds on the road.


Lunch the second day.


It was getting pretty hot, so I decided to deploy the cooling towel.


This fellow had one of the more interesting bikes I saw all weekend, a Rawland Sogn. It had high volume 26″ tires from Compass, and a very nicely fitted Honjo fenders.


Approaching the Lewis and Clark bridge.


Our timing was perfect. If you look closely, you’ll see that a group of bikes is just starting a crossing as we arrive, and we managed to get in on the tail end.


Steve passing slower cyclists during the climb.


Crossing the mighty Columbia.


48 miles to go.


A very welcome mist station at St. Helens. This was during the hottest part of the ride, with the sun beating down, and no shade. We passed a gas station whose sign flashed 101°F, but I didn’t want to stop to take a picture. This would have involved waiting for the sign to cycle through about four ads.


Entering Portland! (still about 20 km to go, though).


Some additional verbiage on the sign.


One last climb up to the bridge access.


Crossing the St, John’s bridge. There was some hesitation among riders to take the lane. Some wanted to take the sidewalk. There should have been a volunteer here.



At this point we were running a bit late and were rushing to beat the deadline for bike drop-off and the buses back to Seattle.


The bus ride back was smooth and uneventful. However, they did not allow me to load the Brompton as luggage, and it had to come back with the regular bikes, which was a bummer.

We picked up our bikes on Monday morning.



Thanks to Cascade Bike Club and the army of volunteers for running a very smooth event. Thanks to buddy Steve who provided riding company and inspiration the whole weekend.

Just a few additional notes (more for my own use)

  • My Bikes and Beer jersey from Henderson’s Brewing got lots of comments.
  • The Brompton did fine. Many people commented whenever I did the quick fold as a built in kickstand. I also got a few comments when I passed people on one downhill at about 50 kph.
  • All the mods to the bike worked well aside from:
  • The only quibble was that I shouldn’t have switched to a new saddle a few weeks before the ride. I’m going to put my Selle Anatomica on this bike for the future.
  • We were slower than last time, but that was probably partially due to the punishing heat, and the fact that neither of us had trained as hard. We spent more than 12 hours on the road each day, and this event is really not geared to riders that are that slow. We barely made the 7 pm cutoff on Sunday, arriving around 6:30, and were not able to grab any food before boarding the buses.
  • One of these days I’m going to take the opportunity to spend a little time in Portland.



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During a quick trip to Tokyo, I took advantage the one day where the forecast didn’t have rain to do a little biking with my brother’s family. They live in an older section of Tokyo east of downtown between the Sumida and Arakawa Rivers. This section is criss crossed with small canals, and there are some nice multiuse pathways along some of them.

My niece has a nice new minivelo branded as Bianchi with very sweet details. However, I don’t think the fabric seat and grips are going to stay clean for very long.


These sharrows go in both directions even though this street is one way in the facing direction for car traffic.


Here we are on an east west section of a multiuse path that goes within about 1 km of the Arakawa River. What is great about this section is that almost all the intersections with streets use underpasses.


There are many clever features built in to slow down bike traffic to make things safe for all users. Here are some very closely spaced bollards.


Many chicanes as well.


Cyclists of all ages were out today.


Here is a map of this particular greenway system.


Reaching the Arakawa River, there are ramps over the flanking levees for bike access.


Here at the top of the levee.


At this point I ran into two bike enthusiasts with a Brompton and a Tikit.


Here we go along the river. Nice wide open spaces for everyone.


My brother took this picture of me taking pictures.


On the way home, I met one more bike guy who was riding a nice Birdy. He also was wearing a folding helmet. He had just gone to a shop to buy some upgrades for his Birdy; notably some drop bars.


It being a Saturday, the pace of car traffic was slower, and many people were out and about. Tokyo is a pretty civilized place to bike on weekends.



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Perennial Cycle is a bike shop that I’ve wanted to visit for many years. Back when I was living in Michigan, I’d occasionally things from them since they carried many unique items for recumbents, such as Radical Designs panniers. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to stay in Minneapolis and so I finally got to see the shop in person. Even better: on Saturday they were running one of a series of Pastry Rides to promote #30daysofbiking during April.



Not quite knowing what to expect, my buddy Steve and I arrived at the shop at about 9 am. Quite a large crowd had already gathered.


We borrowed bikes for the occasion. Where else in North America are you going to find a bike shop where the rentals are Bromptons? Mine was a superlight with dynamo lighting and a third party midrise bar. Quite an upgrade from my own number.


Steve talks to a fellow Brompton rider.


Yuba bikes was sponsoring today’s ride. This Supermarché was put to work hauling coffee from Peace Coffee. Note the Brompton shipping cartons.


All shapes and sizes of bikes and riders were in evidence.


Retrogrouch representation.


Mark and Mary were riding this Vision tandem with OSS and IPS.


Martha gets us organized just before we start.


Our lead off rider was on a Brompton.


Here we go.


Stopped on Humboldt at Lake.


Turning east on the Midtown Greenway.


This section has a pedestrian section marked by a white line on the right.


Here the pedestrian path is slightly separated.


The offramp towards Nicollete.


Going north on Nicollette Ave.



Arriving at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Group picture. There were about a hundred of us.



And now pastries and coffee. Pastry from the Salty Tart.


Steve and I.


Lots of fun talking with like minded cyclists. Minnesotans are very friendly! Since I happened to be riding a Brompton, there was lots of Brompton related chat as well.

Selfie with shop owner Luke Breen, who is a good guy.


Luke is now giving away raffle prizes. If you go on one of their rides, be sure to sign up; there were some pretty nice things being given away.


At this point, we decided to leave a bit early. Mark and Mary were kind enough to lead us back on their tandem. Here’s glimpse of a separated bike lane on 26th.


Here on the greenway, we pass some Department of Transportation staff who were demonstrating an Autonomous shuttle. They yelled out that we should stop to check it out, but I responded that we preferred human power which drew a chuckle.


Back at the shop, it was time to take a look around. I really liked this mini bike rigged up to demonstrate dynamo lighting.


The colorway on this bike is clearly meant for adults, not kids.


Here is their rack of Bromptons. The gray ones on the bottom row are rentals.


A good selection of Catrikes.


Recumbents, long tails, and commuter bikes.


Of course I couldn’t leave empty handed. Among the things that I got were a SpedDial clamp set, and a Radical carrying bag that got a rave review on their website.


Thanks so much to Luke and his staff for their hospitality. If you want to visit a great bike shop that carries all manner of bikes that are not for the MAMIL set, you should definitely check it out.

Also thanks to the Salty Tart for their treats. Here is their stand at MSP.


An additional shout out to Martha who apparently wants to visit this shop in Toronto that is just around the corner from where I buy most of my groceries.

#itsasmallworld #supportindependentbusiness


Update: Perennial Cycle has posted their photo album here.

Just a few more pictures:

Just around the corner from the bike shop is a bike share station. It looks like it is run on the same platform as Toronto’s system.


There were a variety of bike racks around town. These didn’t look that space efficient.


This was was better.


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One lap of Pelee Island

The family booked a couple of days in a cottage on Pelee Island, and of course the first thing that popped into my head was that I had to bike all the way around it, a distance of about 27 km, dead flat. My whip of choice was the Haul a Day, since it would be fun to be joined on the ride with Lucy. Here we are setting off on East Shore Rd, near the northeast corner, headed north.


Lots of way finding signs. It seemed that at least a third of the roads on the island were marked as bike routes.


Here we are at Scudder’s Marina on the north end. Google Maps still seems to think that the ferry arrives here, but in fact the ferry terminal moved to the south west corner some time ago. One of the few stores on the island is nearby.


Headed west on North Shore Rd, you can see a row of small cottages for rent on one of the few sandy stretches of beach on the north shore.


The southern most school in Canada, by which I take it that there is only one school on the island.


Just as we turn south on West Shore Rd, I see a tree of shoes at Hooper’s Corner.


Just a little further on, this memorial to a cancer victim.


Sunset Beach on the west side, one of the few sandy beaches on this side.


Most of the west side is rocky, with the properties across the street from the water. You can see the ferry marina off in the distance.


There are a small cluster of commercial buildings near the ferry terminal. Here is the OPP detachment.


This is apparently going to be a craft brewery.


There was also a bike rental place, an ice cream store, and most importantly, an LCBO.

Biking past the winery, we headed further south on McCormick Rd.


This is the furthest south you can go in Canada by road, the trailhead to Fish Point. Note that the parking lot is full, and yet only two of the bikes were locked up. No cars in evidence. Maybe Pelee Island is my kind of place!


Leaving our exploration for Fish Point for another time, we cycle towards the southeast corner of the island. At this intersection, we are directed north, although we were highly intrigued by the sign for “the last mohican”.


Headed north on Stone Rd.

DSC01499East Park Beach. The entire east side was more or less sandy beach. I was told by a local that the beaches were about half their usual width due to high lake levels this year.


Most of the properties on the east side were right on the water, and many of them were either behind a protective berm or on stilts.


And our ride is done for the day.


Our one lap left a few places yet to be explored. We were determined to go back to Fish Point, which is the furthest inhabited point in Canada. A short hike though woods and by wetlands brought us to land’s end.


Here is Lucy as far south as we could get. The island in the distance is Middle Island, which is a nature preserve.


Looking a Google Maps, you can see that the sand spit is much shorter than usual. The blue dot is where we are.


All of Canada is north of Lucy. Latitude-wise, we are south of the California/Oregon border!


While we hiked back along the beach, I saw a fat bike riding along the surf line. It was only as it drew closer that I realized that it was equipped with a bobike kid seat. It was the kind of thing that I would have done if fat bikes were available 13 years ago. Way to go, bike dad!


The next day, we set off in the early morning to see the northernmost part of the island, Lighthouse Point. Here is the trail leading north.


The trail ends at the beach as we trek further north.


The lighthouse!



You can actually go a little further north of the lighthouse, but there was not much to see.


On the way back, the largest remaining wetland on the island to the right, and some nice houses on the left.


Overall, I’d say that Pelee Island is ideal for family biking. We saw many family groups with kids biking. Granted our one lap of the island was done on a Sunday afternoon in late August, but during that entire time, we got passed by perhaps ten cars. I’d say that about 3/4 of the roads were gravel or dirt, so narrow tires would not be the best choice.

Lucy and I bid adieu to the island after a very pleasant stay.



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The extended family met up in Banff, and today we rented some bikes to take a spin around the Banff golf course: a lightly travelled paved loop.  We started on the 200 block of Bear Street, which was billed as a woonerff.


In reality, they removed some parking spaces and made some patios and bike parking, but the car through traffic didn’t seem to pay much attention to the fact that they didn’t have the right of way all the time. On the plus side, there were three bike rental companies on this short block.


Here is our group getting staged.


and we’re off, headed to a multi use trail along the Bow river.


Along the river.


Pausing for a group photo on the new pedestrian/bike bridge which is just a little ways from the old crossing.


Passing a horse drawn carriage.


Regrouping after a pause at the foot of Bow Falls.


Between us, we had rented three of these Fiori tandems, which are made by Norco.


The golf course loop is a peaceful ride through beautiful scenery.


lunch break by the river


and we’re off again.


My nephew always wants to be in the lead.


Unfortunately, Dad’s stance on his tandem didn’t afford him a great view of scenery.


Mom was my stoker for most of the ride.


Just before the end, I switched stokers to younger daughter, and there was a noticeable uptick in speed.


Pausing at the top of the climb by Bow Falls.


And back across the river.


Banff seems to be trying to promote cycling, There are certainly a few really nice pieces of infrastructure such as the bridge, as well as the path between Banff and Canmore. In the town itself, most of the bike routes had wayfinding signage and sharrows. The main safety enhancement is that the speed limit in town has been lowered to 30 kph, and by the way the traffic was moving, it seemed to be enforced.


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This past weekend, I was able to make a return visit to G&O Family Cyclery, Seattle’s specialist cargo bike and family bike dealer. Since my visit two years ago. the shop burned to the ground, and was finally back up in a new place about a block north of the old location.

The new store is significantly more spacious than the prior location.


In the front window, I could see the newly updated model of the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Reise and Muller cargobike that I didn’t recognize.

Once again, stepping inside, I’m in cargo bike heaven, with lots to gawk at. The red Bullitt with the custom wood box was being picked up by an excited customer.


Here is a customer’s Family Tandem, just like ours, but with lots of nice additions, like a BionX motor, rear moose rack for a Burley Piccolo, double legged kickstand, a sprung Brooks saddle, and grip king pedals.


A tern folder with the integrated Bosch e-assist, in front of a variety of Reise and Muller e-bikes.


The latest version of the Yuba Spicy Curry, which I was told had a much better  e-assist than earlier versions.


The frame mount for a front basket on the new Xtracycle Swoop.


A Yuba stride bike with a front basket and very cute colour scheme.


Carsick Design sling bags with a custom logo.


The pièce de résistance: a Butcher and Bicycles tilting trike. I absolutely had to try it.


Co-owner Davey Oil was very gracious and explained a couple of things about it before I took it for a test ride. This pictures shows the only time during my visit where he didn’t have a smile on his face.


Riding the tilting trike was fascinating. I was advised that at low speed, it steers like a normal trike, where the tilting feature is almost irrelevant, but above about 15 miles an hour is where it makes a transition to the feel of a two wheeler. In truth, with my unfamiliarity with the combination of the tilting, the Bosch e-assist, and the NuVinci transmission, riding it was like ten minutes of full sensory overload. While I never got a chance to be fully comfortable with the starting, on a short downhill stretch I got the feel of the tilting, where it steered just as stably as a (two wheeled) bakfiets. Davey said that aside from its superior high speed stability, it was a bike particularly suited to parents with children with developmental difficulties, where the ease of loading passengers with the opening front panel was a big factor in its favour.

Davey was very kind letting me pick his brain about the cargo bike scene in Seattle. I noted the fact that e-assist seemed to be a much bigger part of their inventory, and he emphasized that for Seattle, not only was e-assist very helpful, but high speed stability was equally important for all the downhills. I neglected to take pictures of the one lonely Haul a Day on the shop floor, but he pointed out that it was the model with the heavy duty frame (“Haula Abdul”), and that they had a custom component spec that was much more suited to local conditions. Much of the feedback to Bike Friday in developing the heavy duty model came from G&O.

He also pointed out some of the features of the new Xtracycle Swoop, in particular the thru axle front fork that makes it much more stiff, as well as eliminating the possibility of front wheel ejection while using the disk brake.

The other bike that he spent some time discussing was the Reise and Muller Load which is the darker blue bike in the first picture. He said that the combination of the stiff frame and dual suspension was a revelation, and that the resulting high speed stability made it an ideal bike for Seattle’s hills, despite its somewhat limited cargo capacity.

Once again, I’d say that Seattleites are very fortunate to have a shop like G&O that not only has a comprehensive selection of cargo bikes, but even more importantly has the expertise to advise customers on the very best bike/trike for their needs.

Side note: on my way to and from the shop, I was able to check out the newly painted 92nd St bike lane, and I liked the fact that it had green paint at every cross street.



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