Bucket Bag 3

Trend in Reflective: Bucket Bag

All the fashion magazines are singing the praises of bucket bags as *the* purse to have for Spring, and in fact, some editors are predicting it’s popularity through Fall. Even my latest Lucky magazine repeated the news. So I guess it must be true – and something to pay attention to. And by “pay attention to” what I really mean is “interpret with reflective fabric.” So I did. Twice.

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

I didn’t find a pattern for one, so I studied as many pictures as I could, and looked some up online to read measurements. Then I just sort of made it up, using for the bottom the pattern piece from my niece’s American Girl Doll carrying bag (McCalls 6854).

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

The first one I made I already shared with you, made with the reflective orange on the bottom and for the drawstring, and a camo print for the rest of the bag. I lined it in blue because that was all I had enough scraps for, but I don’t think my friend minded. In fact, she was pretty tickled with it.

But I learned a few things while making hers and tried to improve on mine, although I’m not 100% sure I succeeded. This time I sewed the  loops on before I put the lining in, but I wish I’d added more loops. I might add them later, and just stitch through – at least the lining is a busy print, so the stitching should be as noticeable. Somehow I had less webbing for the strap, which ended up fairly short, but I guess that it’s a big deal.

I picked the color combination because I love this plum reflective fabric (which I am now almost out of) and it goes so well with the Liberty of London for Target duvet cover/fabric I have. My original thought was to get blue microsuede fabric, but JoAnns didn’t have a blue I wanted, so I picked a light denim. It looks fine but is more casual than I’d wanted. I was sort of hoping I could carry this bag with the dress I’m wearing soon to a friend’s wedding. I may end up making (trying to make) a zippered clutch, but we’ll see.

I used fusible woven interfacing on all the fabric, including the lining, to give it a bit of heft; on the bottom I used a really thick, almost felt-like fusible non-woven interfacing that created a pretty firm base. I wish I’d known about that interfacing when I made my niece’s bag. It still doesn’t hold it’s shape the way I imagine the high-end leather bags do, but theirs aren’t reflective, so there you are.

Now I’m in a purse mindset – I want to make all kinds of bags! Especially since I have this cool metallic printed twill, silver and gold. I think the gold would be lovely as a foldover clutch to match my floral dress, but I can’t decide if I should mix in some reflective fabric. But I also can’t imagine sewing something that isn’t reflective anywhere – quelle horreur!  Stay tuned to see if I attempt something this weekend.

Future gold clutch purse?

Future gold clutch purse?

Flowers

Spring Time Bike to Blossoms

It’s now a few days into Spring, at last! Sure, it snowed on the first day of Spring, but at the following day was pretty lovely – 61*F! It’s only a matter of time now before everything is in bloom. After all, the Cherry Blossom Festival has started and Capital Bikeshare’s #bikeinbloom unicorn bike is already out for people to find.

Speaking of blossoms and blooms, I decided that I am going to institute my own “-euring” event this spring. Inspired by the Fourth Annual Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge last fall, I think I will do something similar yet very different. It will be my challenge (but feel free to do it yourself!), so no rules, submissions or patches, and no coffee will be involved. Maybe tea. Anyway, my idea is to bike to a new Arlington County park every weekend. Because I specifically want to see the flowers and gardens, I used the filter function on the County’s website to find parks with “ornamental/rose gardens.”

Parks with "ornamental/rose gardens"

Parks with “ornamental/rose gardens”

There are 18! I did some further investigation and narrowed my list down to a few that look particularly interesting:

The Mechanic and I walk to Lubber Run fairly regularly, but we haven’t biked there. And we’ve biked past Glencarlyn Park but never stopped. And Powhatan Springs Park we have apparently passed, but never realized it was there. It has a bioretention area, so The Mechanic is especially interested in seeing that. The list is admittedly pretty short, but our weekends are pretty well booked already, so I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. By keeping our obligations minimal, we won’t be disappointed that we didn’t get more biking done.

Signs of Spring are popping up all over!

Signs of Spring are popping up all over!

I am hashtagging this Spring/Summer event #bike2blossoms, and I invite you to try it for yourself – hashtag your pictures on Twitter and Instagram so I am sure to see them! What better way to enjoy Spring than to bike to parks to see flowers? Nature and bikes – two of my favorite things. Flowers

The intersection side without the crosswalk.

Adding a Series: Comfort Biking

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Forum for Women & Biking, and the conversations surrounding how women don’t feel as safe or comfortable as men do, when it comes to biking, one of the reasons why fewer women bike. So I’ve decided to start a series called “Comfort Biking.”

By “Comfort Biking,” I mostly mean places and spaces that don’t seem to be comfortable enough for that 60% “interested but concerned” group to bike in. I run across them myself, or rather, I don’t – because I chose to go a different route. I think that we can start identifying what people might be insecure about, or unsure of, or nervous or maybe just downright scared. It might be physical but it could end up being about people, groups, dogs, or anything else. Anything that I run across that makes me think, “Oh, I don’t feel comfortable with this, I’ll do something else.”

"Increased Comfort = More Women Biking" - The League of American Bicyclists

“Increased Comfort = More Women Biking” - The League of American Bicyclists

I had a few experiences today that made me think of this. The first experience was this morning, when I was biking to a client location. While I was happily in the bike lane, headed north, I noticed a boy on his bike riding on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. At first I was annoyed that he was doing something clearly incorrect and potentially dangerous, but when I got closer and realized he was a student, I thought, “Well, we need to do a better job at education to make sure kids know to bike in bike lanes!” However… when we got to the intersection, I realized why he was biking where he was – the bike lane I was in ended, and not only that, there was no crosswalk on my side of the very busy and large intersection! If I wasn’t confident enough to bike through the intersection with the vehicular traffic, I would have had to cross in the crosswalk to the left hand corner, then cross on the left side. I didn’t see the boy cross, but I bet that’s what he did. I saw in that moment a true story about how we encourage kids to bike to school, but can’t provide the safe infrastructure to let them do so.

The intersection side without the crosswalk.

The intersection side without the crosswalk (taken from the left/west side of the street, looking east)

The intersection headed north on the west side of the intersection.

The intersection headed north on the west side of the intersection.

On my way home from a different meeting, I opted to bike down a further street towards our apartment, rather than the closer street, because the closer street requires a left-hand turn in the middle of the road with no light, and sometimes I just prefer to not have to do that. Sometimes, like today, I opt to keep going, and turn onto the street with the traffic light. It depends on my mood. Today, I didn’t feel like dealing with the oncoming traffic confused by a bike in the lane, trying to make a turn (it sucks for cars, too, but obviously I’m smaller and more vulnerable).

I think this series will only be once a month, but I think it is important. Surely those nine blog posts won’t change the world, but it will be a step in the right direct of talking about different needs.  finessecomfort

 

Levis Commuter Jeans 2

Denim, Blueberry Soup and Bucket Bags

It’s been a busy weekend! Whew, I’m tired – when is my weekend?!

First of all, I am so excited to have received my Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women, woo hoo! There has been a lot of buzz about them lately, and I have been anxious to get mine. I’m sort of on a bike jeans binge right now, as I also got the REI Novara bike jeans the week prior. The jeans came in a big fancy box along with some other swag, as part of a special “kit,” since I was selected as a local blogger to, well, blog about them! It was an exciting moment to get a huge box in the mail during the day on Friday, and discover all the goodies in it – a pin, bag with reflective design, and some stickers. But check out the fancy packaging! Clearly I am sucker for the packaging.

Initial thoughts – I really like the high waist, since it holds my the 5lbs I have been too lazy to lose this winter, but man, the legs are super skinny! I can barely get them on over my calves, and I don’t think my calves are abnormally bulky! I wore them this morning to volunteer at the WABA Vasa Ride (see below), and they seemed fine, no major problems, just really skinny in the lower leg.

The Levi's Commute Jeans for Women are so skinny that they make my shoes look huge!

The Levi’s Commute Jeans for Women are so skinny that they make my shoes look huge!

Stay tuned for more details on the jeans!

I volunteered for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association‘s Vasa Ride this morning. The Vasa Ride is held in partnership with the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown, in tribute to the traditional Swedish vasaloppet ski race (check out the crazy history of the race!). The biggest draw, I think, is the warm blueberry soup in the embassy after the ride. I did the morning shift, checking in riders, so no blueberry soup for me, alas. It was nice to meet some social media friends (Hey Mary!), and a special shout-out to Jennifer, a reader of my blog. We met for the first time and chatted knitting. Thanks for saying hi! Of course, Rootchopper was there – I feel like I’ve seen him a lot lately… is he beginning to stalk me?!? About 500 riders braved what turned into a very blustery morning for the first ride of the season. I managed to get a few pictures.

I then spent the rest of the day trying to finish up a gift for a friend. Since bucket bags are really “in” for Spring, I thought I’d make one, and decided to use some of my orange reflective material in combination with some camouflage print. I just made up the pattern and directions in my head, with more or less success. I am pretty happy with the way it came out, and can’t wait to give it to my friend – then start my own! I also bought some printed metallic snakeskin fabric. I have no idea what I’ll do with a half-yard each of gold and silver, but I love it! And I have a bit of silver and gold reflective material left. My thinking cap is definitely on…

I hope this week is a bit calmer than the lat few weeks have been. I’m gearing up for a trip on Easter Weekend to Palm Springs, CA, for a friend’s wedding. I still want to finish altering my wedding dress into a skirt to take, but a bit worried that it won’t happen. Too much other stuff in my head!

So much to make, so little time, as they say!

So much to make, so little time, as they say!

Women Bikes Forum 1

Reflecting at and on the Women & Bikes Forum

I was fortunate enough to attend the National Forum on Women & Bicycling, a day before the 2015 National Bike Summit. This was the fourth year in a row for the women & bikes day, and the third year I attended. As promised, I wore my new reflective bomber jacket and my Ligne 8 jeans, and I risked the rain to wear my Dansko Nevin Mary Jane heels. Although the temperatures are no longer flirting with the freezing mark, I still opted for a wool overcoat. But no, I did not bike to the National Forum on Women & Bicycling. I couldn’t get up early enough….  Women Bikes Forum 1

Numbers. Martha Roskowski, the VP of Local Innovation at PeopleforBikes shared some statistics from a recent participation study. Some of the points include the fact that only one-third of people in the US rode a bike last year, 30% of those people rode five days or fewer, and 70% of those people riding for transportation rode to a “leisure time activity,” rather than to work. Martha also said that 39% of women respondents still worry about their personal safety on a bike, that is, they worry getting attacked while they are riding their bikes, and that only 14% of women feel safer than they did five years ago. That’s pretty sad. Elysa Walk of Giant Bicycles said that almost 90% of both men and women have ridden a bike at some point in their lives, but only 44% of women have ridden in the last year, and of those, only 42% rode frequently (sorry, I don’t remember her source). Basically, women ride less as the years go by. I assume this is as their lives get more complicated, and they have children and hobbies and business clothes and meetings or more than one job, or any number of other barriers that keep women from biking. Or maybe they are concerned about their safety, both lack of safe infrastructure and personal safety, and lose confidence and interest. Regardless of the reasons, women are not biking as much as they could be.

"With increasing bicycle infrastructure, there will be more & more women like me."

“With increasing bicycle infrastructure, there will be more & more women like me.”

Speakers. The opening plenary, “A Case Study in Leadership,” featured Ren Barger, the CEO of Tulsa Hub, and her mentor and Tulsa Hub Past Board President Barbara Bannon. Barbara Bannon seems like the kind of woman we should all want in our lives – honest, upfront, intelligent, perceptive, strong, driven, caring funny. The two of them shared how Barbara help Ren grow into a stronger, more skilled CEO while developing Tulsa Hub into a functional organization. I found their partnership inspiring and encouraging. Rue Mapp, CEO and Founder of Outdoor Afro,  was the closing plenary speaker, and also funny and engaging and motivating. Her organization focuses on getting African-Americans in nature, hiking, camping, biking, fishing, and so on, and because I have a strong belief in the need for nature, I really support her mission.

Barbara Bannon, left, and Ren Barger, right

Barbara Bannon, left, and Ren Barger, right

Marketing. Once again, presenters talked about how women are not and have not been represented in marketing, and talked about what they are doing to fix that. Representatives from SRAM, Specialized and Liv Giant are all doing basically the same thing, focusing on building community networks, having “ambassadors” lead events, clinics and rides for women, and focus on the fact that women like social networks. Maria Boustead of Po Campo was the fourth presenter, and the most interesting to me, because she admitted that she started making a product then realized she needed a marketing campaign. Some of the stuff she did was really creative, like hosting a “Braid Bar,” where women could get their hair braided and talk about biking. I liked hearing about Po Campo events because her market is only urban riding, whereas the other three still are geared more towards road and/or mountain biking. Less “bikes as transportation” conversations happening there. Women Bikes Forum 2

Shopping! I don’t only go to the Women & Bikes Forum for the women-owned bike product pop-up shops, but it is a huge plus! I planned on buying “bloomers” from Bikie Girl Bloomers, and she had the turquoise and red polka dots pair that I wanted, yay! Owner Karen and I chatted a bit; she’s only been doing this for two years! I think she has a fabulous product, and I can’t wait to wear mine. I also loved the black pair with the red flames print. I chatted with Susi Wunsch of VeloJoy, Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood, Lara Neece of Forest and Fin and the upcoming Bicycle Wrap Skirt, Robin Bylenga of Pedal Chic, Lani Tarozzi of TandemNYC Skirtweights, and many other creative and talented women who are developing useful and stylish products to help women feel more comfortable while biking. We all have different definitions of comfort, but there are enough options out there that we can find what suits us best. The important thing is to have those options!

My takeaway this year was less inspiration and more thought-provoking. The statistics really make me think about the need for more “comfortable” bike accessibility. I admit that I’m a chicken cyclist – I like my bike lanes and buffered lanes and separated bike lanes, and quiet neighborhood streets. I prefer to ride on streets that have lanes, rather than sharrows or of course nothing at all. I’m not brave like The Mechanic and numerous other men and women I know who bike regularly, although I try to be! I think I am not alone in this. Maybe I need to do more to speak up about my safety concerns, so that planners and developers and city officials and whomever else know that A) I ride my bike B) I shop, pay taxes, and vote C) I dislike being treated as a second class citizen because I don’t drive a car everywhere. Make my city (okay, county) safe for me! And then it will become safer for the children, older people, people with physical challenges, and everyone else in my community. Even those who own cars.

It's not all serious at the #womenbike #NBS15 National Forum on Women & Bicycling!

It’s not all serious at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling!

 

Bomber Jacket 3

Reflective Bomber Jacket, Reporting for Duty

Bomber Jacket 1

Ready for Spring in my new bomber jacket, Ligne 8 jeans, and Cole Haan oxfords! Soon all that snow will be gone, at last!

Bomber jackets have been popular for a season or two now, and I’ve finally got mine finished and ready to share! Bomber jackets, also called flight jackets, bombardier jackets or captain’s jackets, are a classic jacket style for women (and men, obviously) that never seems to go out of style, but at the moment is enjoying fanciful interpretations. What better way to recreate a classic military style than with some reflective jacket, for bombing around town on a bike?! Using the McCalls 7100 pattern, I opted for fully reflective sleeves, using some of the fabric I got through my Australian blogger friend Oanh. It has a cool pattern, and oh by the way, is amazingly reflective. Bomber Jacket 2

The pattern instructions were a bit challenging, and twice I had to rip out stitches and start over. The zipper I used is actually glow-in-the-dark, although I’m sad to say that it’s hard to see it glow in a photo. The zipper was longer than I needed, and since I don’t have zipper stops, I just faked it and stitched it straight into the seam. It doesn’t look as bad as you might think! The pockets were very easy, because they are set into a seam, however. I opted to flat-line the sleeves, because I disagreed with the way the instructions would have you sew in a dart then trim them, so you’d either have a raw or serged edge right on your shoulder. I am much happier with the lining.

Glow-in-the-dark zipper!

Glow-in-the-dark zipper!

The shoulders actually look pretty nice, I think.

The shoulders actually look pretty nice, I think.

The only bummer part of this garment is that the sleeves are too short. It’s more annoying because I lengthened the sleeves on my SF Fog sweatshirt and they ended up too long, and after measuring the pattern piece, these seemed like they’d be okay. Alas, no – just a tad bit too short. All the better to show off bracelets, I guess! I was also a bit worried that the ribbed band on that sweatshirt rides a bit more snugly than I would prefer, so I made the band on this jacket a bit more relaxed. Although I’m wearing it here with jeans, I can see this going well with skirts and trousers, so it will be a good wear-to-work piece also. Yay for multifunctional!

Fine, you are saying, let’s see it reflecting! Here you are: Bomber Jacket 3 Bomber Jacket 6 Bomber Jacket 9Once the weather is warm enough to not need a heavy coat, this will be a great evening biking piece. It will be hard to miss me when my arms light up so much!

I will wear this to the Women & Bikes Forum on Tuesday (March 10, 2015), along with my Ligne 8 jeans, so if you are there, you will recognize me. I always like to wear my bike fashion sewing project to bike events, and it’s important for me to now have something new for each one. I am really excited about the Forum, and looking forward to hearing all the speakers.

Now that this is done, I’m ready to move on to other projects. Besides my wedding dress conversion, I’ve got plans for a bucket bag (drafting the pattern myself), jumpsuit, top and I’m considering culottes. Culottes are very in this spring, and I am a bit on-the-fence about them.  Maybe shorter ones, just below the knees, would be good for biking – full enough to mimic an A-line skirt, split for ease and comfort, but not so long that the fullness would get caught in the chain rings (it’s happened more frequently than I’d prefer). But am I brave enough to wear them?! Only time will tell…

 

 

 

Novara Bike Pants for Women (Image from REI website)

What Are You Wearing?

There has already been a ton of buzz about Levi’s new collection of bike commuter clothes for women - yes, at long last, Levi’s has made bike jeans for women. Only some 3 or 4 years after their men’s collection. Slow to the bandwagon, but at least on it, finally! I can’t wait to get my hands on a pair!

Levi's Women's Bike Commuter Jeans

Levi’s Women’s Bike Commuter Jeans (Image from website)

Another sharp-eyed member of the women and bikes Facebook group I belong to found these REI Novara Bike Jeans on clearance, so I ordered a pair. Frankly, they look a bit more figure-forgiving than the Levi’s.

Novara Bike Pants for Women (Image from REI website)

Novara Bike Pants for Women (Image from REI website)

But I noticed that while the Novara jeans offer a loop for one’s U-lock, the Levi’s don’t seem to have that. I guess the “deeper back pockets” are their option. Personally, I’m glad, because I am not the kind of bike rider who carries their bike lock in a pocket; mine is clamped to the top tube. But it did make me wonder who carries their U-lock in their pocket.

On the left hip is the U-lock loop; you can barely see it but for the blue logo.

On the left hip is the U-lock loop; you can barely see it but for the blue logo.

So I want to know what you wear when you are biking:

  1. Do you ride your bike more for commuting to work, or for running errands on weekends, just for run, or purely for sport?
  2. What do you wear if you bike to work? Do you gear up, or just wear your work clothes?
  3. If you bike to work in your work clothes, what type of job do you have? Do you need to look corporate, or is your job pretty casual?
  4. If you mostly spend time on your bike on weekends/vacations/free time, do you wear bike gear or whatever?
  5. What sort of “bike friendly” touches would you want on your dream bike pants? The U-lock loop? Reflective trim on pockets and cuffs? Reinforced crotch? Seamless crotch? Articulated knees? Moisture-wicking fabric? Fabric that takes off 10lbs?

I’m certainly not out to make the ideal bike jeans for women, I am just curious what you wear on your bike. Reflective Challege Day 10

For example, I pretty much only bike to work, because most of what I need on the weekends is walking distance, or something like IKEA, where I need a car both to get to it and to haul stuff home. Therefore, I spend more time biking in my business clothes, and less time biking in jeans and casual wear. I really don’t need bike jeans, then, since normal jeans do just fine (although I do like my Ligne 8 jeans!). And I certainly don’t want to put my U-lock in the pocket of my business pants, and it would never fit in a blazer pocket.Ligne 8 jeans 3

If you would be so kind as to leave comments, telling me what you prefer to wear while you are biking, I’d be grateful for your responses for my non-scientific (or even Survey Monkey) survey!

Please note:  I don't normally put anything on my sewing table, not even water! But it makes a nice picture, nicht war?

ICYMI: February Short and Sewing

February is always a shockingly short month, even though we all know it’s just a few days shorter than the rest. How do those two missing days make the month seem so short?!

Some of the other things going on this month include cutting up my wedding dress, needing new sewing labels and of course reflective sewing projects!

Wedding Dress Project

I really love my wedding dress and am sad to not get to ever wear it again. So I decided that I’d turn it into a midi skirt. I love the soft floral print, and it’s full enough to make a lovely Spring or Easter skirt. Last week I took it into work to use the fabulous work table as my cutting table one last time. (The office is about to be remodeled, so good bye to the best office amenity ever!) I have to confess that cutting into the floral print chiffon was not easy! I was surprised at how emotional it made me. But I want the chance to wear it again, so I have nothing to lose from trying this. So cut away I did.

The plan is to add an elastic waistband – not elegant, but this way I don’t have to put a zipper into this slippery fabric – and hem it, and that’s all it needs! I’m a bit worried about hemming this stuff but friends have been coaching me long distance, so I’ll try it on the scraps first. My goal is to have this done before Easter, when we go to Palm Springs for a friend’s wedding. I’m not sure what I’ll wear it with, although I think the lovely pink Clarks Hotel Bustle fishermans sandals with (reflective?) ankle socks would be an adorable casual touch.

Sewing Labels

I suddenly realized that I’m almost out of sewing labels! This isn’t that big of a deal, because I’d like new ones anyway. I’m ready to move beyond my “Half-Assed Originals” ones that I have had for probably a decade or more. I got those back in the day because that’s the way I felt my sewing was, half-assed, because I was too busy just trying to get things done, rather than done well. Now I want things done well, and I’d really like the labels to say “Tin Lizzie.” The sticking point is that I’d love an image but I don’t know what kind of image. I like the idea of a bunny on a bike, but I don’t really want a bike. Maybe just a symbol, or just my ankle tattoo, or a really fancy E initial. I just don’t know. Anyone know a graphics person who would be willing to create something for me?

Time for a new design!

Time for a new design!

Reflective, of course!

I have loved the reflective designs on the LFlect website for a while now, probably since I first started experimenting with reflective materials. I’ve never ordered anything because it’s a bit pricey, being British and that exchange rate and shipping and all, but I was weak when I saw their new reflective “yarn” wrapped on hearts, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I wouldn’t call it yarn, exactly, because it is indeed a bit chunky and sort of like strips of knit with reflective striping. I have no idea what I’ll do with this, but I’m sure something will come to me eventually.

I am also working on the bomber jacket I want to wear to the National Women’s Bike Forum, which I realize is only a week away! I’m pretty excited about how it looks so far.

Left side without the flash, right side with the flash.

Left side without the flash, right side with the flash.

Milestone

I realized that February 28th was my bike’s 3 year birthday! It’s really been three years since The Mechanic converted his beater bike into my beloved Little Lord Fauntleroy! Fauntleroy has matured since then, with his Danish front basket, Swedish skirt guard, leather grips and so on, but there is nothing I’d trade him in for. I still love my bike and look forward to more years of biking around town with Fauntleroy.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

It’s also been three years since I’ve been at my current job, and blogging. It’s hard to think that it’s only been that long. I wonder what will happen in the next three years.

Please note:  I don't normally put anything on my sewing table, not even water! But it makes a nice picture, nicht war?

Please note: I don’t normally put food or drink on my sewing table, not even water! But it makes a nice picture, nicht war?

 

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

Too Many Bikes – I Can’t Imagine

A story has been circulating lately that has many bike advocates and people who bike wishing they had this problem – Amsterdam has run out of bike parking, and the city is contemplating building underground parking for 7,000 bikes! For the rest of us, this is unbelievable, mind blowing, a wet dream, or all of the above. I mean, the city plans to spend 200 million Euros on new bicycle infrastructure (as part of it’s long range planning)! This makes me want to cry.

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

Amsterdam Bicycle Parking near the Central Station

The city is considering underground bike parking, as well as adding more floating bike parking stations, around the Central Train Station, to a whopping total of 21,500 by 2030. Construction isn’t expected to start until 2017, but I have no doubt it will happen – 43% of Amsterdam residents bike to and from work, according to the City Lab article, with over 50% biking daily.

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam's Central Station

Floating Bike Parking near Amsterdam’s Central Station

I have to confess, however, that my first thought was, “Well get rid of the abandoned bikes first!” When we were in Amsterdam last summer, we noticed that not only are the racks crammed full of bikes, a great number of those bikes appear to be abandoned. I’m pretty sure that flat tires, rusted or broken chains, missing parts, etc., is a good sign that a bike hasn’t been ridden in a while. And City Lab reports that Amsterdam removed 73,000 “wrongly” parked bikes in 2013, so I guess they do keep tabs on that. Copenhagen was the same way: we saw seas of parked bikes, only to get close and realize that a significant percentage were clearly not ridden on a regular basis. Apparently it’s a problem that urban planners and others in Copenhagen are just beginning to realize and recognize.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

Sure, this might not be an abandoned bike. Someone may have parked it this way on purpose.

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

They might look rusty to us but are probably (?) well-used bikes!

This story has reduced me to sighing wistfully and clicking through photos of both our visits to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. I know The Mechanic and I remarked on those trips about the sheer number of bicycles in mass bike parking lots, and how we wished we had the problem of abandoned bikes piled up on the racks. I mean, how does one cram one’s bike into an overcrowded rack?! I guess that’s part of the reason they all ride clunkers.

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

Where do you put your bike in this Copenhagen bike parking?!

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I'd call "wrongly parked."

That bike on the top row of this Copenhagen bike rack is what I’d call “wrongly parked.”

I'm willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen's Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

I’m willing to bet that all these bikes in front of Copenhagen’s Magasin du Nord are there just for the 50% off sale!

While we struggle to get adequate parking in most places in this country, we can all dream of the day when we have the Amsterdam problem of too many bikes, not enough bike parking. Someday….

I saw a car slide in this intersection as it tried to turn.

Snow and Spring and Shoes

Yesterday’s snow storm was a bit unexpected – it started earlier than anticipated and seemed to snow more than expected (maybe 4-5″?). Then it turned to rain overnight, and with the morning temperatures above freezing, it was a slushy, sloppy mess when I went for a mid-morning walk. I wanted to see how the road conditions were, to determine how I felt about getting to work Monday morning*, but I ended up just cranky. I guess I have to write at least one winter weather-related cranky post per year. SnowstormWalking through the barely cleared slushy side streets of my neighborhood was somewhat annoying because there were too many large puddles, then there’s that whole no-sidewalks thing. Of course people were walking in the street, there is nowhere else to go! I did see people out shoveling in front of their houses. I love the way civic concern ends at the edge of one’s property line. Shovel all the way to the street? Clear the curb? Not my problem.

But once I got onto a main road, I started to get really annoyed. Here Arlington is a Walk Friendly Community, and it was impossible to walk across streets. Snow had been plowed into walls along the main drag, sidewalks cleared to almost the street, and slush puddles formed at every corner. It’s no wonder I saw these two guys walking down the middle of the road. Their feet were probably drier than mine, as I attempted to make my way across the mess. Slush 13Slush 10As I struggled along, I thought about how Arlington has made news because it is clearing the bike trails this winter. This is a huge victory for bike advocates and my friends at BikeArlington, but I have to confess that it makes me sort of crabby. It’s great that the trails are cleared – but what about the bike lanes?! I mean, there are plows out on the streets already, just clear the bike lane at the same time! And by the way – how do  you expect people on bikes to get to the bike trail that has been so nicely cleared?! I don’t tend to bike after a snowstorm because I know the roads will be messy, with the snow plowed into the bike lane, and the roads icy, and I don’t trust drivers in this sort of weather while I’m trying to take the lane. If you want more people to bike in the winter and the snow, think about the connectivity of the system.

So I decided to check out the route that I usually take from home to the bike trail, if I take the trail (which I don’t, because I prefer to take the bike lanes. It’s more direct to my office. Why go out of my way? And I find the trail boring. I’d rather check out the houses and restaurants and shops I pass). As expected, pretty messy. The only section where the bike lane was totally clear was the section where it goes between a right turn lane and a through lane.

The car is actually in the bike lane, because the right turn lane is still full of snow and slush. At least the bike lane is clear?

The car is actually in the bike lane, because the right turn lane is still full of snow and slush. At least the bike lane is clear?

See that white line almost buried by the snow? That's the outer edge of the bike lane.

See that white line almost buried by the snow? That’s the outer edge of the bike lane.

Where the bike lane ends...

Where the bike lane ends…

Bike directions, yay! No visible bike lane - it's under all that snow.

Bike directions, yay! No visible bike lane – it’s under all that snow.

Please, please, please, can we think about how everyone gets around, in all kinds of weather?

Now that my rant is over, I am going to think about Spring. It will be here eventually! I’m fantasizing about warm weather and wearing skirts on bikes, and Spring shoes. I don’t know why, I’m just obsessed with pink, blush or nude shoes right now. I really love the Inglewood kiltie oxfords from Finery London, in nude with a gold kiltie, and Cole Haan has a lovely basic blush oxford as well. Orla Kiely has teamed up with Clarks to make some adorable (yet expensive) shoes, and I love the pink slipper flats (and the pale blue kindergartener t-straps, which I think would be perfect with this Spring’s newest trend, culottes). Clarks has a few other pairs of pale pink shoes that I love, like their own pale pink/nude spectator oxford and even the dressed-up fishermans sandals.

Any one of these pairs would be adorable with a circle skirt – how many more days until Spring arrives?

 *PS – Although I took the bus, the warm weather appears to have melted enough snow yesterday to clear most of the bike lane….