Bunnies, Biking and Building

It’s been a busy few weeks, from a friend’s visit to a marathon IKEA-Home Depot-Beth Bath & Beyond day to building more and more IKEA pieces. In between, I am getting used to a new bike commute and we are all still adjusting to the new rabbits. Whew! We can’t wait until the long Thanksgiving weekend when we can hopefully finish and relax.

First, the bunnies. We have begun to let them out into the living room and watching their antics as they explore is highly entertaining. Quinn is the explorer of the bunch (girl power!) and is always out hopping onto things.

Er – on the tub on the bookcase – probably not a good place to be…

Sully is less excited to explore but has his moments.

“Didn’t you put the treats over here?”

Gaston has been happy to return to having lengthy pet sessions. I am more than happy to comply. Love this little bunny! Speaking of bunny love, I stumbled upon a Kate Spade ring on the Rent the Runway site and decided I had to have it. Thankfully it was on eBay at half the original price. This is 100% what my mom and aunt call an “F&M” – as in, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” And you know what? I totally don’t care. I bought another bauble at the Coach store, a personalized embossed leather tag for my super old Coach bag. They had the embossing machine in the store so I got to watch it get made. This is also an F&M – I need to start sewing again to keep me focused!

This is the closest to sewing I get these days – I am attempting to participate in #BPsewvember on Instagram, a sewing photo a day challenge during the month of November. As my sewing space is still in piles and my machines still packed up, it’s not been an overwhelming success so far.

I am getting some baubles that are not F&Ms – I ordered progressive sunglasses. I’ve reached the point where I want to be able to read my phone, menus, labels, and anything else in a small print when I’m out and about. Its annoying to carry glasses around and put them on when I need them (maybe I’m lazy), so my regular progressives have become super useful. But maybe I’m delicate – I need some sun protection too! So with a balance in my FSA account, I visited a new eye glasses shop and picked out a swanky pair of tortiseshell frames. Can’t wait to get these babies back!

My new bike commute is almost a mile longer; that is, the route I prefer lengthens the commute about a mile. I could go another direction and it would probably be equal to what I’ve been doing. But I like going through the neighborhoods, not on the main streets, and who doesn’t need a little extra exercise?! So now I’ve got 4 miles each way, slightly uphill in the mornings. I need that too. I have been on the bus a lot, due to a variety of reasons, and now it’s *cold* in the mornings again, and I’m having a hard time adjusting. It will come, but I’m not as excited when its around freezing when I wake up.

I had a lot to carry with me this day, so those morning hills were even harder!

About the house – this should say it all:

This just happened.

So check back in with us in a week or two, and hopefully by then I’ll be SEWING!

Hoppy October!

No, that’s not a typo – this is really a hoppy October. I’ve been MIA the last few weeks because Gaston has been dating, and that has honestly taken up all my free time. My sewing projects laying neglected, but I have had some fun reflective fashion arrive. October will be all about the bunnies. Sounds like a hashtag, doesn’t it?

The Mechanic and I decided this summer that Gaston needed a friend. I love how much time he wants to spend with us, but feel bad when we don’t have the time. Rabbits are very social animals and wild rabbits live in warrens with dozens of family members. Why shouldn’t Gaston have a companion? So after much discussion and research, we approached the local rabbit rescue about bunny dating.  We took Gaston two different times to meet some eligible bunny bachelorettes.

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After Gaston met eight females (missed a photo of one) and pretty much ignored most of them, we joked about introducing him to a pair. And of course – he fell instantly in love with the largest, fluffiest angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn. The Mechanic and I were in shock – we were not really prepared to bring home *two* more rabbits! But Gaston seemed so happy, and after having seen him with the others, well, how could we deny our bun-son? These English angoras are about 7lbs, compared to Gaston’s 3lbs, and just as fluffy and sweet as can be. Their foster mom said that Sullivan, the boy, loves to be held. Good thing too, since we’ll need to brush them every day! The angora’s foster mom took all three rabbits home with her to do the bonding. We hate not having them with us, but luckily, she lives nearby and we have been able to visit. It seems like it is going well, faster than the average of four weeks. Hopefully they can come home soon, one big happy fluffy family.Be sure to follow their adventures on Instagram @fluff_and_ears

In between driving Gaston around on his dates, I’ve lined up my fall sewing projects. I’m only planning two, since there will be so much other stuff going. The first will be a black floral peasant dress with reflective ribbon on the sleeves and hem, and reflective bias in the yoke seams.

The second, largest and most exciting project will be a coat with the Dashing Tweeds fabric I bought in London this past May. I’ve never made a coat, and will for sure be making a muslin first for fit. I don’t have enough for the full coat, so I’ll use it for the sleeves, collar and back belt.

And I finally achieved one of my sartorial goals – I finally purchased a Vespertine NYC blazer (I think I got the last black one). It’s so cool! I love it!

Fits great, good for work, and reflects perfectly on the bike! (sorry for the blurry image…)

I also ordered some reflective fabric, elastic and grosgrain ribbon from Mood Fabrics. That stash arrived the same day as the Vespertine blazer. #reflectivelove !

This isn’t reflective but also super cool – my Lorica Scudamore printed armor leggings finally arrived! I backed these  on Kickstarter months ago and they finally arrived. I can’t wait to wear them (I’m just not sure where….)!

So Hoppy October, everyone! Stay tuned for further adventures of bunnies, sewing and reflective fashion!

Revisiting Bike Fashion Options

I recently realized that I haven’t done much with women’s bike fashion outside of my own sewing projects (and admittedly I’ve gotten a bit away from making *everything* reflective and/or bike friendly). I haven’t done much non-commute biking a far too long, either, so it’s been a bit off my radar. I thought that maybe I’d be inspired to both bike and refocus my sewing if I found some great resources out there, so naturally I poked around on the Internet a bit. However, I found what I sort of suspected – there isn’t much going on.

Well that’s disappointing.

It’s not like there isn’t anything going on, of course. Here is my round up of options for the stylist city cyclist.

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay recently released their women’s cycling jeans. Naturally I love the reflective details! (Resolute Bay is working on a really cool reflective jacket too – for men.) But man, these jeans look tight on the model – how are normal sized women supposed to feel about that? Maybe I’m feeling overly sensitive after realizing how much weight I gained this summer (oops, not biking enough) but I can’t get excited about tight jeans.

Ligne 8

Ligne 8 is still around and has added more pieces since I looked last time, including “cycling gear,” which seem to be geared towards the road bike crowd – jerseys, padded shorts, bibs. I love the “urban” collection of A-line skirts, basic shirts, and several non-jeans pants.   I wish I could afford to order some of these pieces to see what they feel and wear like, but alas, they are out of my price range. That is – I’d rather spend the money on fabric! Still, it’s a nice collection of wardrobe basics for the woman (or man) who likes to look classic and classy on the bike and at the destination.

Reid Miller Apparel

I met Reid Miller in DC a few years ago and backed her cycling jeans on Kickstarter, which are my favorite cycling jeans. Reid has been busy with her company and blogging about the the sustainable manufacturing journey she has been on over the last two years.  I’ve read her updates with interest as she examines fast fashion and it’s negative impact on the garment industry in the United States. You can still order her Riding Jeans, and she is relaunching the Riding Jacket this fall, but if nothing else, I recommend reading some of her blog posts.

Here I am in August 2015, trying on the Reid Miller jacket and jeans

The Willary

The Willary is a new company that has gained many fans among the women I follow on social media. The company’s tagline is “A wardrobe that works” and each piece of the Core Wardrobe is made of stain resistant, stretch fabrics in classic shapes. I love the dress, the Core Dress, which to me is one of those perfect travel pieces (I live in this fantasy that I travel alot and need things that work for every destination, haha!). It’s short and doesn’t seem quite bike-friendly enough, but that’s no reason to not like it! I do like the way they have approached different body shapes, as explained in their video. I hope they have the opportunity to expand their collection; I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

The Willary Core Dress (Image from The Willary website)

 

REI

REI seems to have redone their Novara brand because the cycling clothing has moved away from the casual, everyday clothing I used to like and now only seems to have “biking” clothing. That’s disappointing, and makes me like the pieces I still have, like my Whittier Dress from 2014 (!!!).

When this dress was new – THREE years ago!

Anything Else?

There must be more out there for the everyday person who happens to ride a bike and not want to wear spandex. I do like T Athleta and Title Nine , but most of their things are still pretty sporty for my tastes. Terry Bicycles often has some non-spandex options. And since I don’t wear jeans often, cycling jeans aren’t what I’m looking for. So help me out and introduce me to collections I have missed!

Summer’s Last Gasp

We all know that at least here in the DC area, there will be a random week at the end of September or mid-October when summer roars back to life and brings on the heat. However, Labor Day weekend is pretty much the end of summer for everyone, even if you don’t have kids going back to school.

And I spent some time last week with local teachers gearing up for back-to-school, which gave me the “summer’s over” feelings even more. However, I did get to see the eclipse with the teachers. Nothing like watching a scientific event with a bunch of educators! I didn’t have a pair of glasses, but teachers shared, and anyway, I almost enjoyed the low tech ways of seeing it anyway. The shadows on the ground from the tree leaves, a colander and a pinhole were really cool. The tree leaf shadows made me think of fabric prints.

I didn’t plan this for back to school but I do have a fun new hairstyle for it. I didn’t realize I had a hair cut scheduled for this weekend, fun! My salon has a light that makes me look amazing, so I snuck a selfie while my stylist took photos for her portfolio. I love changing up my hairstyles.The Mechanic and I took a field trip to IKEA over the weekend as well. And look! They had the IKEA bikes set up! Naturally we spent some time playing with them and analyzing the features. I almost bought the pannier/backpack they sell but as it was plain black, I decided against it. But it’s great that they offer everything from that to helmets to small pumps to U-locks, as well as the bikes and all the accessories. We didn’t buy anything at IKEA, well, not much. I bought a jar and some fabric. That’s right, fabric! I’ve always studied the fabrics when we go but I couldn’t resist this print. It’s on a rather heavy twill so I think I will simply box pleat it onto a waistband and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll line it as well, but I’m not sure. Looking ahead at the calendar for the next few months, I’ve realized that I won’t have much time to sew <weep>. Time to focus on the fall/winter projects. I have several lined up, so I have to make sure I FOCUS on what I really want to get done. I’m taking classes two weekends in a row from the store where I purchased my new sewing machine. They offer “getting to know your new machine” classes, and although I’ve already made a bunch of stuff with it, I’m sure there will be plenty to learn. Then I can focus on my winter coat and a brocade jacket. But first, I just need to finish this blouse, made with the Liberty of London print I purchased in the spring when we were in London. Then the IKEA skirt. But then no more distractions! Winter is coming and I need to be prepared!The other thing that happened this past weekend has nothing to do with summer – it was the first anniversary of Gaston’s Adoption Day! Although he wasn’t feeling well for most of the day, he eventually bounced back and has mostly forgiven us for picking him up and shoving meds in his mouth. It’s amazing how a little fluffy 3lb rabbit can change our lives in one year. I look forward to many more.

Love this sweet fluffy boy!

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From New Orleans to New Apartment

A week again I was in New Orleans for work. The Association for Commuter Transportation held its annual conference in the Big Easy, five days of greeting industry friends, meeting new ones, learning a lot and being inspired.

One of the highlights was hearing Elizabeth Levin and LaVerne Reid talk about women in transportation and different experiences breaking into a traditionally male industry decades ago. I bought the book “Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” and am looking forward to reading it. Hopefully someday soon….

I didn’t do any biking while in New Orleans but saw the brilliant (and I do mean that literally!) Social Ride, with at least 20 people riding bikes almost entirely covered in lights. That was on Frenchmen Street, where we also enjoyed some local music and beverages.

One of the conference vendors was Lime Bike, a dockless bikeshare system. I love the bikes for their design, but also the solar panels in the front baskets that power the digitally-connected ring locks that unlock the bike for you. I think they mostly cater to the university transportation people at the conference. 

Upon my return from the conference, I jumped in to help The Mechanic finish our move. It sounds like everything that could possibly go wrong did, and we are only now digging out from the chaos. It will be a relief to get settled. Gaston is already quite comfortable in the new place, but then again, he is still in his same place. 

I shall be back to my regular blogging schedule but alas, I doubt I will get any sewing done. It’s just as well – nothing like moving to make me feel like I have too much stuff. I’m trying to purge as I unpacked. Do I really need 6 lipsticks in almost the same color?!?

Let me leave you with some photos from Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street. This hot dog place (yes they have vegetarian/vegan options) is being redecorated in an intergalactic style – complete with Chewbacca over the bar. I love this place. 

Surprises in Northeastern Oregon

I missed a regular blog post earlier this week because The Mechanic and I were in Northeastern Oregon on a family trip. My dad’s side of the family gathered to say goodbye to my grandparents with a celebration of life and scattering of their ashes. I hadn’t been there in seven years, for my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and enjoyed exploring with fresh eyes.

Thirty-five years ago, my dad’s dad and his second wife moved to Lostine, Oregon, a small town in Wallowa County, Oregon. Their property, titled Big Foot Ranch (no idea why), is tucked in a narrow valley between Lostine and Enterprise. I was ten when they moved, and got to travel with them in my great-grandmother’s fifth wheel trailer – a huge adventure to me. Every summer thereafter we drove up to visit them. I rode their horse, swam in the irrigation ditch, and learned to drive on a Model A Ford pickup and an old John Deere tractor. (There goes my city creds – The Mechanic now has plenty of ammo to call me a country girl!)

Enterprise, in the far northeast corner of Oregon

To get there, we flew into Boise, the closest airport, and after meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law (who flew in from Texas), drove four hours to Enterprise. After being greeted by the beef industry in the Boise airport, we joked about what the cattle-raising locals would think when four  vegetarians rolled into town.My grandparents’ property is so lovely, with the rushing river and fields on either side. Marching up the hillside through the weeds is still the same, returning with socks and shoe laces full of burrs. This is my kind of wilderness! Also, the low humidity was sooo refreshing, despite the high temperatures.

I have changed in the seven years (!!!) since I’d been to my grandparents’ – then I was single, newly moved from Manhattan to Washington, DC, and unhappy with my job. Wanting to show The Mechanic all the things my brother and I grew up doing in Oregon made everything new. The biggest surprise was how bike-y the area is – whaat? Bike lanes through the middle of Enterprise?! And Joseph, OR, not only had bike lanes, but bike racks shaped like bikes, and one store had a large “Bike Friendly” sign out front, notifying all that not only were there bike racks, but drinking fountains, public restrooms and package shipping. I’ve never even seen this on stores here in the DC metro area! The Mechanic and I chatted with a woman who had been biking 65 miles into Enterprise, to get to Terminal Gravity Brewing. She said that for the most part, cars were pretty respectful of her and kept their distance, because not all the roads have decent shoulders and space to bike. I had heard that the area was trying hard to promote cycle tourism, and now I believe it.

Another surprise was just how much we loved the town of Joseph. It’s Main Street is maybe 5 blocks long, but it packs a ton of cute into those blocks. Famous for the bronze foundry, Joseph has a huge arts scene. Every corner had artwork in brilliant floral beds, every other store was something related to the arts (a wonderful quilt store too!), not to mention the artisan chocolate shop, the bistros and restaurants, and the murals. If you are looking for a relaxing, small town getaway with tons to do and see, this is your destination.

Wallowa Lake was also a surprise – having been in the area for so many years, I don’t know why we never hung out at the lake. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, The Mechanic and I ended up spending a very, very relaxing afternoon reading in the park by the lake. We had gone up to the top of Mt. Howard on the Wallowa Lake Tramway to admire the mountain views, and had planned on renting kayaks. Instead, we enjoyed the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery around us. Ah….

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All around are remembrances of the Nez Perce tribe, native to the Wallowa area. As obsessed with Native Americans as I was as a child, I don’t remember exploring any of their history while visiting my grandparents. So I was pleased to be able to see a small bit of their history at the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite and Joseph Canyon from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Viewpoint.

It seems like we packed a lot into a short trip; this doesn’t even include our evening at Terminal Gravity (their grassy front lawn will make you stay far longer than you planned!) and the day we spent with extended family and friends remembering my grandparents. I will leave you with more photos of the area. It is just so beautiful that photos don’t do it justice. I’m glad I got to visit one last time and have these images to share with you.

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But now we are home and I’m back to embrace my kind of outdoorsy –

ButIt seeWe packed a lot of scenery intoTheSave

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!

 

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Transportation in London: Is the Bike Lane Greener?

Despite the short amount of time we were in London (3.5 days), we still managed to get a ton of photos of the transportation scene – of course. As with any new city, there were some notable differences, not the least of which was the fact that traffic seemed *crazy* to us. But also – it was really, really quiet! No honking, no loud motors, extremely few obnoxiously loud motorcycles… even the tourist hop-on/hop-off buses were quiet! We know because we took one. The most notable things were: quiet streets; hi viz everywhere; indecipherable street markings; bikeshare stations *everywhere*; and the ease with which we were able to find and get on every train and bus we took.

Quiet Streets

We were there for Friday morning and evening rush hour and Monday morning rush hour, plus the weekend in between, and were astounded at how quiet it was. Honking was the exception, not the norm. Buses were quiet. Motorcycles were quiet. Nothing at all like New York City! It was so nice, ahh….

Lots of hybrid double decker buses (also, so fun to ride!)

Hi Viz Everywhere!

Everyone wore hi viz, even the cars. Cops, maintenance workers, cyclists, little school kids in museums, people on the sidewalk. Police cars, maintenance trucks, emergency vehicles, and similar – they were also decked out in hi viz. Either the hi viz companies are doing a bang up job at marketing, or the streets really are that crazy. Maybe it’s that hard to see in the London fog?Indecipherable Street Markings

Thank goodness there were instructions at the crosswalks about which direction to look! That opposite direction traffic had us totally turned around, and not in the right way. If the intersections weren’t marked, we had no idea what was going on, and weren’t there long enough to figure it out. Seriously, what do the zigzag white lines mean in the streets?!?

Also really loved that the crosswalks were divided not only by the medians, but were not directly across from each other. Having to turn left or right to walk to the continuation seems like really smart street design to me.Bikeshare Stations Everywhere

We were amazed not only by the sheer number of Santander Cycles (aka “Boris bikes”) bikeshare stations on every corner, but also by the fact that they were all twice the size of the Capital Bikeshare stations here in the DC Metro area. We never tried them, because we were a bit afraid of the traffic and because we didn’t know where we were going. Although, from what we observed, people just biked out in traffic and didn’t seem to be phased by the vehicles around them. And honestly, I know it exists, but we never saw any driver acting aggressively towards or honking at cyclists. Thank you, London drivers, for the positive impression!

Seriously, look at all those stations!

Other notable bike-y things: the bike lanes were really narrow; there were tons of bike boxes; we saw the most bike lanes and cycle super highways in the central City of London part; Bromptons were everywhere; Transport for London had tons of information about how to travel with your folding and non-folding bike on buses and trains; buses and many trucks had stickers on the back corners cautioning cyclists about turns… It seemed like it was just part of everyday life there, not some totally outlandish idea that a crazy minority indulges in. (Ed. note: yes, that’s sarcasm.)

So Easy to Get Around

A system this big must be hard to manage, but The Mechanic and I never waited more than 5 minutes for an Underground train (Or “tube”), even after seeing a show on Saturday night, and only waited about 10 minutes for one of our buses. It was so easy to get around! The bus map I picked up in the airport was super easy to read, finding bus stops was really easy, and with our pre-ordered Visitors Oyster cards, using the Tube and the buses was as easy as using our SmarTrip cards here at home. That was definitely a dream.

I also love that so many Tube stations have shops and kiosks around them.

Is the Transportation Grass Greener?

I have to say, that if I lived in London, the Tube is so easy that I might not be a cyclist. What?!?! Okay, I probably would but I’d definitely need to figure out the streets. But given how easy it was to figure out the Tube and the buses, I might be more than happy to let someone else do the driving for me, rather than fight it out on my own on the streets. But I’m going to have to conclude that I need several more chances to explore all the options in London before I can decide. So, next flight to London?

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Maybe I’ll Give Up Biking

Yes, Dear Readers, I had this thought – maybe I should give up biking.

I am normally a pretty patient person but I was really OVER the whole bike commuting thing last week. One (or three) too many drivers cutting in front of me to get to the parallel parking on the right side of the bike lane; one (or two) too many buses speeding past me to zoom into bus stops at the right of the bike lane; and one too many pedestrians running across the road *not* in the crosswalks, then saying “watch for crazy cyclists!” Seriously?!? The selfish, unthinking, clueless, uncaring attitude is what is driving me nuts – is it really THAT HARD to look out for others?!?!?!

The next day, I saw a Tweet from Nelle Pierson, deputy director for WABA (Washington Area Bicyclists Association), saying that she knows 60 people who have been hit by drivers in cars. Sixty! I’m trying to imagine ALL of my friends having been hit by drivers, not just the few who actually have been, including The Mechanic. That same day, Rootchopper blogged and tweeted about the fact that he’s actually Number 66, since he had just been hit by a driver not paying attention. And here is my colleague’s experience after she was half-doored by a driver: Why You Should Care About Other Modes Now.

All of this was clearly the straw that broke my back – I’m so sick of having to prove to the world that biking is a perfectly reasonable, healthy, safe, green transportation option, not crazy, stupid, dangerous, or MAMIL-dominated. They do it in other countries, in quite high numbers, and without helmets! Why is it so impossible to do it here?!*

It would be just as easy to not bike, and probably easier. My alternative commute is a super easy bus route. In the morning, my bus stop is a block from our apartment, and the bus drops me a few blocks from my office. In the evening, the bus stop is in front of my office, and drops me in front of my apartment building. The bus ride takes about the same amount of time as it takes me to bike, with the added bonus of the super nice bus driver who calls me “Supermodel.” It’s nice to start the day with his friendly face and cheerful words.

Not only does the bus offer a super easy route, riding the bus means I don’t have to deal with a helmet, lock, lights, panniers, gloves, pants strap and whatever else I might need. It means that on rainy days, I get to the office comfortable, instead of mostly dry. It means I can read the news or Twitter or catch up on Instagram friends’ sewing projects. It also means I walk right past three different breakfast place options, rather than detour as I normally do, if I want to buy breakfast that day. It means not having to jockey for a spot on the bike rack, either. So there are many reasons why riding the bus to work would be SO MUCH EASIER than biking to work.

Rainy day bus stop selfie

But would I really give up biking?

I don’t know.

At least it did me some good to do some bike errands this weekend – The Mechanic and I biked to Westover where we purchased art from local artists at the Handmade Arlington craft show, then purchased potting soil and some planter boxes, so we can grow lettuce for Gaston. It was a leisurely day with minimal traffic interaction, and made me feel a bit better.

Easily transportation bags of potting soil on a Workcycles bike

Maybe I just need a break from it.

 

*I know all the reasons, but I’m tired of the excuses. Please don’t try to excuse away the behaviors, put the blame elsewhere, or whatever. I’m perfectly entitled to feel how I do.

 

 

All Biking, No Sewing

Yes, it’s true – this past weekend I did all biking and no sewing! Well, almost all biking – I walked on Sunday. But I biked errands on Friday and The Mechanic and I had a bike date on Saturday, which is more biking that my usual bike to work routine, so yay! And I really didn’t do any sewing, although I did cut out a pattern. And ordered two new patterns. And keep staring at the fabric swatches I got in the mail last week. And helped explain some pattern directions to a friend. But technically, no sewing.

My daily bike commute leaves me somewhat complacent (and with minimal exercise), so it was good for me to shake off some cobwebs and bike around Arlington. And as always, I experienced and observed some things than I feel could easily improve the experiences of others who wish to bike but are concerned, that 60% “interested but concerned” cyclists that the cycling advocates always focus on.  So here are my takeaways from this weekend:

Signage

Imagine my shock when, cruising in a bike lane up to an intersection, I spot a sign way across six lanes of traffic that read “bike lane closed.” Considering the sidewalk was also closed, because the whole block is currently a construction site, there was nowhere to go but the traffic lane. Luckily the driver in the car next to me was considerate and let me in front so I could get across the intersection and back onto the trail safely. Also, there was a jogger taking the lane because again, so sidewalk and no accommodations. For an inexperienced cyclist, this could have been a really stressful situation. My suggestion? Add a “bike lane closed” sign in *advance* of the intersection. I could have made route adjustments and gone down a different street. Seeing the sign at the stop sign was a bit too late. Covered Bike Racks

During Friday’s errands, it unexpectedly started raining. I had my Cleverlite Cleverhood in the bottom of my pannier, so I stayed dry (ish), but my bike did not, even when at a bike rack. As I struggled with pannier, bags, gloves, ‘hood, seat cover, lock, keys and lights, I thought about how this situation prevents those 60%-ers from biking more often. It’s a bit of a hassle, running in and out of shops with wet gear, fumbling for the lock while trying to keep everything as dry as possible. Think then, how nice it would be if more outdoor bike racks were covered! There are a few places in Arlington where the racks are covered, such as by the Clarendon Metro station, but overwhelmingly, most places are lucky to even have a few thought-out staples near popular destinations. Even places like schools would encourage more biking more often if the racks were covered.

Lucky bike commuters get nice large bike rack covers near the Clarendon Metro Station in Arlington, VA

What do we need to do to encourage this trend?

Useful Access Points

This is somewhat a pedestrian issue rather than a bicycle issue, but really, I get so annoyed when sidewalk curb cuts are blocked, be it by snow, cars, or construction bollards. Clearly it’s too hard for people to consider that someone *might* actually need to roll something down off the sidewalk – wheelchair or baby stroller or maybe even bicycle.

I hate this spot in particular, because I think it is too narrow and too angled to be useful to someone in a wheelchair.

If I, as an experienced cyclist, find these things frustrating, imagine what someone who isn’t as experienced or dedicated might react to these. A sudden vanishing bike lane could scare someone off riding a bike again, while rainy weather and no comfortable place to leave a bike could make someone revert back to their car. Blocked curb cuts are enough to make anyone realize that their local government and community doesn’t really care about how they get around by foot or bike, or how they might struggle with a walker, and cause them to relocate elsewhere. It might seem like a small thing, but really, it’s not.

Is it any wonder that I prefer to stay home and sew?! It offers a good refuge from a city that seems to have it out for me, the cyclist. Currently I can’t wait to order some of this Thread International canvas and jersey, made with recycled plastic bottles collected in Haiti. I want to make 1930s-style wide legged trousers and a simple tee shirt and lounge around in them all summer. Guess I’ll need longer pant straps to keep those pants from getting caught in the gears. That’s at least one frustrating thing I can control!

Not bike friendly but awfully cute!