Helmet Hair – The Struggle Is Real

I am a low-maintenance hair person. I really don’t want something that takes too long to mess with, requires a ton of products and equipment, but I still want something that looks good when I take my bike helmet off. I’ve had short hair in a range of lengths since I chopped off my waist-length hair in junior high, not because I want something easy, purely because I’m vain. I just look better with short hair. Consider, then, the irony of ending up with a hairstyle that requires 15 minutes to properly style, plus hairspray, and being 100% okay with it because I LOVE IT so much.

My hair stylist is a genius. (She also took this photo – still a genius)

I’ve switched up my routine for this hair style – I now curl it at work, so I can wear my helmet in the morning and not smush the hair. This is important, especially on days I have client meetings. I want to look good, and smushed curls are not the “good” I’m going for. I didn’t really quite appreciate how much this hairstyle has changed my attitude on wearing a bike helmet until recently, when I really loved how it turned out, and didn’t want to put my helmet on to bike home.

Curl mastery – before putting on my bike helmet at the end of the day.

I was only going home, so it shouldn’t have mattered, and yet, this particular day, I felt especially pained by having to smush my hair. I didn’t consider not biking home because of it, but I would definitely reconsider biking TO work, if I couldn’t do my hair once I get to work. So there I was, suddenly realizing that I was letting my hair dictate my commute mode.

I love my Nutcase helmet but I may love my hair more…. #vain

Okay, to be fair, it didn’t look terrible when I got home 25 minutes later.

Slightly flattened curls. Not bad, I guess.

So it was with great awareness and recent experience that I was interested to read a pair of BikeArlington’s recent blog posts about a study they recently conducted for Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan Bicycle Element Survey. Arlington is polling people to see what they think about bike lanes. (You have to download the report, but don’t worry, you’ll get awesome emails from BikeArlington in exchange!) Of the 1206 people they spoke with, 89% reported wanting to bike more often. Yay! Fitness ranks high on the list of why people do bike, but biking taking more time also ranks pretty high for why they don’t do it more often. (People, think of it as spending less time in the gym! You’ll come out ahead, I promise.) There are a lot of really good details in this report, most of which has to do with existence (or lack thereof) of bike lanes, and I strongly encourage you to read it. Although this is Arlington, VA, specific, I’m sure the responses are not much different than you’d find elsewhere.

More like this, please!

What I found most interesting is the list of barriers that prevent people from walking and biking more. Of the women polled, concerns about appearance ranked high on the list of reasons why they do *not* bike to work. I hear this frequently as well, especially if a company does not have showers, a decent sized restroom, or a culture that supports biking and making looking a little less than 100%. I know I’m spoiled at my job, where many of us bike and finish our looks at work. We have to look just as professional as the executives we work with, so it is important to us as well.

Bunny bike style! Hated the way my helmet made my hair flip out, though.

I know that Arlington has less control over what individual companies or buildings do compared to the control they have over installing new bike lanes. And because so many respondents want more and better protected bike lanes, I hope that Arlington moves forward with plans to put in what the residents clearly want. But more importantly, I hope that planners and designers and company leaders and everyone realize that if we want to get more women on bikes, the helmet hair struggle is real. It’s not something that should be dismissed or belittled.

Ugh, I can see here how my bike helmet is smashing my hair here. #dislike

If I, who bikes pretty regularly and proudly, reconsider it because of my hair, think about what someone might think who has *never* tried biking to work. I know, from experience, how great it makes me feel, how much easier it is to be traveling on my own time frame and power, and how much more community spirit I feel from biking past the same houses and businesses every day. I am willing to have less than perfect hair (and a bit of sweat) for the benefits I receive from biking. So how do we get women to enjoy the same experience? I guess I’d say build more bike lanes.

Gentle Reminder: Courteous Biking

If you are in the Washington, DC, area, or in tune with what is going on in the area, you are aware that our Metrorail system is in a sort of meltdown. Service and safety have steadily declined in the last few years, with fires, stalled trains, and smoke in the tunnels being almost daily occurrences. It makes it challenging to promote the use of transit options when people have become afraid to travel underground.

The new general manager, Paul Wiedefeld, has grasped the bull by the horns, and launched “Safe Track,” the WMATA plan to cram three years’ worth of maintenance into a year. By breaking repairs into “surges” and halting any service at midnight, WMATA repair people can (hopefully) crank out the necessary repairs by the Spring of 2017. Surge #1 hit Arlington first, with single-tracking trains between two stops, and reducing the time between trains. Arlington County put together a very thorough and comprehensive plan to help people manage their commutes and give them other options if they didn’t want to struggle through the initial surge.

Folding e-bikes marketing for the Safe Track win!

Folding e-bikes marketing for the Safe Track win!

Regardless of all the plans in place, traffic this first week was visibly worse. The recent post from Bikeyface was timely – yes, it’s Drive Month in DC. Everyone resorted to their auto-pilot plan, and drove. I rarely see such backed up traffic through the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor! But on the flip side, there are suddenly waaaay more people biking into DC. Yay! BikeArlington created a system of bike trains to assist newer cyclists navigate the trails and roads between the East Falls Church Metro Station and Rosslyn, with a leader stopping at every Metro station to pick up people along the way. Apparently few if anyone took them up on this awesome plan, but maybe that’s because everyone was already biking on their own.

See one of these signs near a Metro station? It's part of the bike train plan!

See one of these signs near a Metro station? It’s part of the bike train plan!

However…. all of these additional people on bikes compels me to issue a gentle reminder about how to be courteous in the bike lanes and trails. I’ve seen some stupid, potentially dangerous actions out there, and heard stories, and want to make sure we all remember that being a PAL is applicable to everyone, regardless of how many wheels you are on. PAL-logo

Easy things:

  • Passing. Do not pass on the right. Pass on the left, and while you are at it, say something (especially if you are on a crowded trail). Do not pass into blind corners!
  • Bike in the correct direction in the bike lane. Having a person biking towards you in the bike lane in which you are correctly traveling is awkward, disconcerting and potentially dangerous for you and the drivers. If a bike lane is two-way, it will be marked as such.
  • Red lights. Legally you are supposed to stop for them. I think I’m the only one who consistently does. Virginia DOT law states “Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings.” I know there is much debate over this amongst seasoned cyclists, but until the law is changed, I would gently remind everyone to please consider this. Not stopping for red lights is the sort of thing that results in me hearing, over and over, “people who bike completely disregard the law and are a menace to us all.” I know that’s not true, of course, but it sticks in the minds of those who don’t bike, and makes us all look bad. (Honestly, I’m really only concerned about red *lights* here, not stop signs. Just be safe at stop signs.)

Beyond this, please, bicycle to your heart’s content (and health) and just be predictable, alert and lawful. Biking, even to work, really is fun!

Biking home from work doesn't always include balloons, but it should!

Biking home from work doesn’t always include balloons, but it should!

Supporting Bike-Friendly Ballston

Saturday morning, The Mechanic and I forced ourselves out of bed earlier than we would prefer. The reason? Supporting a protected bike lane for a bike-friendly Ballston. WABA (Washington Area Bicyclists Association) was making the case to the Arlington County Board at the 8:30am Board meeting, and we were going to show support.

The Mechanic and I live close to Quincy Street, and use it on a regular basis. The Mechanic bikes on it to work on a regular basis. We both use it to get to the Ballston Metro station, our favorite restaurants (Kapnos Taverna, yum!), I bike it depending from which direction I return home, not to mention the fact that it’s the street on which the central public library and Washington-Lee High School are located. It’s also the street that offers direct access to the Custis Trail, the multi-use trail that extends between the W&OD Trail and Washington, DC. Quincy Street MapCurrently there is a bike lane painted and faded along most of Quincy. There is a permanent dumpster in the middle of the lane just south of Fairfax Drive, and just south of Wilson Blvd is a new hotel, which means taxis, shuttles and cars of every kind poorly park in the bike lane to pick up or drop off visitors. The bike lane vanishes at Washington Blvd., making for awkward (at best) and uncomfortable traffic mingling. A heavily-used road, drivers along N. Quincy have little patience for anything in their way. Don’t even get me started on pedestrian safety along here! On the BikeArlington Comfort Map, N. Quincy is yellow, or “medium” comfort, with that awkward intersection orange or “difficult.”

Comfort Map Quincy

Snippet from BikeArlington Comfort Map

Comfort Map Suggested Ease

BikeArlington Comfort Map Legend

This stretch is also heavily used by people on bicycles, all kinds of people on bicycles. We’ve seen everything from roadies (well, Freshbikes is located right here) to lower-income people on rickety, beat-up bikes, to families, to an older couple we occasionally see on an odd two-seater tricycle (not a tandem; they sit side by side). These people are headed through Ballston on Quincy to all sorts of destinations: not just the library, but any number of shops and restaurants, Quincy Park for recreation and exercise, the high school for school and events, to visit friends, family, and anything else imaginable to which people travel. It’s a vibrant area, and has the potential to be more so.

Luckily, we aren’t the only ones who think so. The proposal met with positive support, both from the two dozen or so of us who were there, and from the Board members themselves. I’m glad we went – it is nice, for once, to be part of the community building process, and to see something so important to public safety being called a “no-brainer” by County staff. Of course, we’ll be watching to see what happens next. I’m not getting up so early on a Saturday to see my efforts go to waste! If we have to return to another hearing, we will. But for now, I am enjoying the positive vibes.

Bicycle advocacy at work!

Bicycle advocacy at work!

 

ICYMI August: Comfort Map Biking and Completed Dress

August ends on a high note – I enjoyed my BikeArlington Comfort Bike Map bike route, and finally made something out of the bamboo jersey I originally purchased for a jumpsuit.

After blogging about the new Comfort Bike Map, I ended up using it to plan a route to Nottingham Elementary School, from Ballston. I first checked out the Google options, then compared that to the Comfort Map, and quickly found my preferred option – the Custis Trail to the W&OD Trail, then off to “easy” N. Ohio Street, and onto “easy” John Marshall Drive.

It was not only amazingly easy (except for one part, which I’ll come back to), it was quite lovely. The route once off the trail cut through Westover, the lovely neighborhood where I used to live, and past some familiar places. The only tricky part was the crossing at Lee Highway – Lee Highway is marked “strongly discouraged” on the Comfort Map, and the crossing is orange, but what the comfort map doesn’t show is that the crossing is not only not clearly indicated, it’s a simple painted crosswalk over four lanes – this left me up to the whim of the drivers both times when I needed to cross.

I enjoyed the rest of the route, and even stopped to photograph a deer casually chewing grass along the side of the trail on my way home. I was in a very good mood after this discovery, and am even more excited about the Comfort Map. Seriously, you need to get one!

The other exciting thing that happened this weekend is that I finally made something out of the tie dye bamboo jersey I had ordered ages ago for a different project. I think this New Look 6301 dress turned out cute, and boy is it comfortable! It didn’t get much reflective trim, because I realized that the jersey is too stretchy for the non-stretchy reflective material, but that’s okay. The wide stripe up the center back should work well. The skirt is swingy, which will mean plenty of bike pedaling space, and the faux wrap front is cute enough for date night. The pattern was very easy, although I omitted the waist tie. A fellow sewer on Instagram said that she’s made two and never added the sash, so since I didn’t have enough fabric, I was happy to not stress over it. I think it looks fine without it.

The fabric was very spongy to sew, which was fine, but having to take out seams was tricky, since the stitches seemed to melt right into it. I thought bamboo was supposed to have moisture-wicking properties, but wearing it over the weekend just to walk around in made me question that – I hope I don’t overheat the first time I bike in this dress!

Yep, it's reflective!

Yep, it’s reflective!

I can’t believe it’s the end of August, and the mental end of the summer. Students don’t start school until September 8, right after Labor Day, here in Arlington, and even though that’s a week away, the arrival of September always signals the beginning of the fall. The Mechanic and I have a mini vacation coming up soon, then we are both starting German classes (he is taking beginning, I will be reviewing grammar in an intermediate class), so I guess we feel that “back to school” pressure a bit as well. The fall seems to be already booked up for me, yikes. Are any of the rest of you going back to school in some way or another?

A DC Vision Zero Capital Bikeshare bike in Arlington! I didn't use it so I didn't Tweet about how it kept me safe, but if you ride one, be sure to read this article and Tweet!

A DC Vision Zero Capital Bikeshare bike in Arlington! I didn’t use it so I didn’t Tweet about how it kept me safe, but if you ride one, be sure to read this article and Tweet!

Comfort Biking: Now Available in Map Format

I had grand plans to write once a month about Comfort Biking – the type of biking that I prefer to do, that doesn’t make me tangle with cars on streets too narrow to support decent bike lanes. And yet…. I haven’t done that much biking this summer, let alone biking in areas where I don’t feel as comfortable. So no Comfort Biking blogs.

Until now – with great fanfare, I present: The Arlington County Bicycle Comfort Level Map!!!!! This is a very exciting thing!!! BikeArlington and the bicycle planners at Arlington County have been working on this for at least two years. comfort_map_thumbThe entire point of this map is to show you which streets and roads in Arlington are “easy,” that is, more comfortable, and which are “difficult,” or less comfortable. The maps says, “It should be easy, intuitive, comfortable and most importantly, safe, to get around Arlington by bike for all residents from age 8 to age 88.” Acknowledging that not everyone feels comfortable biking close to motor vehicles is a very important step forward in making Arlington County more bike friendly, because once you publicly acknowledge this, it becomes easier to put the physical infrastructure in place to assist those comfort cyclists.  Comfort Map RankingsThe routes are color-coded: Blue routes are the easy ones, yellow “medium” and orange “difficult.” The back of the map shows definitions of each, with illustrations, to help map users determine which category they best identify with. Roads “strongly discouraged” are indicated in black lines. In one quick glance, it is easy to see which routes to take across the county – I can just look for the blue or yellow routes. And the “strongly discouraged” routes come as no surprise – Glebe, Lee Highway, Columbia Pike. All known for being pretty risky to bike on (although The Mechanic, of course, bikes on Glebe to get to work). Comfort Map 1The comfort level of streets isn’t the only thing marked on the map, but pretty close. Supporting bicycle features such as bike shops, drinking fountains, restrooms, libraries and community centers. Steep hills are marked with arrows, but can be found on any color road. Remember, this is about comfort around vehicles, not technical challenges. That would be an interesting map, however.

The reason why I initially wanted to start a comfort bike series was the unpleasant bike ride from Ballston to the REI just over the border in Fairfax. Sure, it’s in Fairfax County, where bike/ped infrastructure sucks at best, and just past Columbia Pike, which is pretty neglected, but even *getting* there is miserable, because there is really no way to avoid biking on S. Carlin Springs Road. Carlin Springs Road is a black line the entire way on the comfort map. Now I feel better – it is “strongly discouraged.” That doesn’t take the steep hill into account either. Steep hill to climb on a black routes? It’s been ages since we biked there and could stay that way. Sorry, REI.Carlin Springs RdI encourage everyone to get their hands on this map, even if you don’t live in Arlington. It’s a great example of how the County was willing to crowd-source feedback from residents, test out routes themselves, and basically recognize the demand. This map will help with that “interested but concerned” population that is always talked about but no one really knows how best to encourage them. I think this map will go a long, long way in starting that conversation, not only here in Arlington, VA, but in cities and towns all over the country. If you are serious about bicycles as transportation, you need to see this map. Order a copy or two here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to use mine to figure out the most comfortable way to bike to (hilly) North Arlington. Comfort Map 2

Arlington Bike Love

I’m feeling all warm and squishy about biking in Arlington, VA. Wednesday was a very bike love day – I wore my Bikie Girl Bloomers today, got a second pair in the mail, did a bike event with kids, The Mechanic and I had an impromptu bike date, we found out that our soon-to-be-nine-years-old niece has been tearing around her MD neighborhood on her bike, and we saw two parents and daughter groups out biking tonight. Yay bike love! Bikie Girl Bloomers in actionI helped organize a bike rodeo for some Arlington Public School Extended Day students at Jamestown Elementary – 40 plus kids learning their bike ABCs (Air – Brakes – Chainring), getting helmets properly fitted, practicing hand signals, and then riding bikes in the (roped off) parking lots! It was hot but it was so much fun for them! I was so amazed and impressed by the skill and experience with which Meg from Phoenix Bikes, Erin from BikeArlington and Gillian from Kidical Mass Arlington patiently and with humor wrangled and directed Pre-K through 5th grade kids. I was equally or perhaps more impressed with the way the Phoenix Bikes kids helped out – the four of them worked on bikes, directed kids on the biking parts, and gave high-fives during the awards ceremony. I know that whatever they did created a bigger impact that us adults and I am even more supportive of Phoenix Bikes’ youth program. And can we talk about Gillian biking to the school with a push car in her bakfiets?!?!

The Mechanic actually got off work at a reasonable time, so we met at his favorite cafe in Courthouse for a light dinner. While we sat there, a huge cargo van went by, and he fantasized about the number and range of bikes he could store in it. It’s been a while since we went on a fun ride together, regardless of how short a trip, and we definitely need to do it again. Bike Date Bike Van on SteroidsI’m excited to wear my new Bikie Girl Bloomers. They are the Leaping Lady print – I don’t normally do animal prints, but these are my colors, and besides, when I took a poll at work, these got several votes. (What, you don’t ask friends and colleagues about the clothes you buy?) Leopard bloomersI am buoyed by the Arlington bike love and bike love in general. It’s hard sometimes, when you do bike advocacy work (or TDM in general, which includes more than just bikes), to not get discouraged by the resistance or outright negativity, so having a bike love day will have to get me through some of those days. That’s part of the reason why I wrote this post, so I can look back and remember that there *are* good days.

You know what else makes me feel better? A gorgeous summer day with blue skies, white clouds, bright green grass and pink trees. Just looking at this photo makes me relax. Jamestown Trees

ICYMI: May Was Full of Bike Fashion Too!

Although most of National Bike Month (aka May, to those of you not so enthralled with biking) has been focused on the how and the where of biking, rest assured, there was plenty of bike fashion going on in my world as well!

I didn’t know that May is also Me Made May, a month-long challenge for seamstresses and those who sew created by Zoe, of the blog So Zo… What Do You Know? The concept is pretty much what it seems – wear something you made every day in May. I love it! Except that I don’t yet have 31 garments that I’ve made (the yoga mat bag doesn’t count!). I think I will aim for this next year – perhaps by then I will have 31 different reflective-trimmed bike-friendly office-appropriate garments to get me through the challenge. I already have three things lined up for the next month or so.

I wasn’t idle, however, and I cranked out two blue casual bike skirts, with reflective trim of course. The first was a midi length blue linen-cotton blend, just two widths of the fabric sewn together with pockets and an elastic waist – but with reflective rick rack in the hem. It’s super comfy and will be perfect for biking around this summer on the weekends. It does make me feel a bit Prairie Girl but when it’s hot and humid later this summer, I won’t mind. Alas, The Mechanic and I have been so busy this month that I haven’t had a chance to do photo shoots with either skirt, so please excuse the lame photos.

The other skirt I made was a bit of an experiment because I have never used a Kwik Sew pattern, nor created anything (for me) just with the serger. Kwik Sew K3513 is a simple foldover skirt pattern; I made version B. I hadn’t planned on this skirt but found the fabric on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics and had to get it. Of course, I realized this past weekend that it’s a bit more sheer than I initially thought! Thank goodness I always wear Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts under skirts and dresses, on and off the bike. Initially I was worried that the size Medium would be too small so I fudged the seams a bit, and now I think it might be too big. Sigh. At least it will be easy to adjust, if needed. I almost didn’t put any reflective trim on this, but how could I not?! So I just tucked a bit in the side seams. It doesn’t go into knit fabric well, but I guess it’s visible. The Mechanic says it is. Again, no chance to do photos yet.

I did buy fabric to made another top, but first I have one ready to cut out – then I need to buy fabric for the jumpsuit I still want to make, then buy the pattern for the next reflective top. I aim to have all three done before a work conference at the end of July, so hopefully I’ll get some down time to sew.   New Fabric

And in non-sewing news, I was featured on Chasing Mailboxes’ blog, as part of Mary’s Women Bike DC series. I completely admire Mary for not only cranking out some serious bike miles and steady running, but managing to write so often. And being chosen from all the amazing women in the DC area who bike is a real honor. Check out the other women in her series, too, to be inspired.

And just last week, BikeArlington used a few of my photos in their Bike Errand Challenge blog post. I’m pretty amazed by the large loads on those bikes. I really want a trailer eventually. Actually, maybe I’d rather have a folding bike.

Both The Mechanic and I have been running around like made, crisscrossing our way across the Eastern Seaboard on the weekends and working long hours during the week, so we are definitely looking forward to relaxing next month. Our first year anniversary is in a few weeks, but celebrating that is the only thing we have planned. Hopefully it stays that way and I can get some sewing done!

 

The Merry Month of May – Bike Tips

May is a wonderful month! It’s full of many wonderful things – my birthday (May 2), Mother’s Day, Memorial Day (aka a long weekend), lilies of the valley, warm weather, and this year, a baby princess was born on my birthday! I’m sure that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name Princess Cambridge after me. Princess Cambridge

But May is also <drumroll please> National Bike Month! And the start of the National Bike Challenge! And Bike to Work Day is May 15th! And Bike to School Day is May 6! So many bike things to celebrate this month, so dust off those bikes and get out there!

But before you get too excited, I’d like to share some thoughts about how to make it a better experience for all of us. I’ve observed some things in my days, weeks and years of biking around that are unsafe, illegal, or discourteous, and it concerns me, because I spend a good deal of my outreach time listening to people ranting about how “those bicyclists” are putting drivers and pedestrians in danger by their careless behavior. I know there are people out there who follow the rules and are careful and are victims of careless, discourteous and unsafe drivers nevertheless. But I think it is important to try to do the right thing. I’d like to see a day when drivers have nothing to rant about – maybe then they would realize that car drivers are worse than bicyclists and pedestrians!

So let’s talk about some things I’ve observed.

Helmets – a bike helmet is meant to be worn on the top of your head, right above your eyebrows, parallel to the ground, not on the back of your head, the side of your head, or backwards. The helmet should fit TWO finger widths above your eyebrows. Tighten those straps under your chin, if it won’t stay on properly; that’s what they are there for. Check out this really great article from KVAL.com – an oldie but a goodie. This is especially important for children – please please please make sure their helmets not only fit properly, but check them frequently if you are biking with them to make sure they stay like that.

Hand Signals -Using your hands to indicate which way you are planning on turning is no different than using turn signals in a car (you do signal before you plan on turning, right?). But it’s important to make sure that others actually see your hand signal. I specifically am referring to the practice I frequently see (if I see a cyclist signaling a left turn, that is) where the person on the bike flicks their hand out around their waist area. If I didn’t know what it meant, I would have NO idea that it indicates a desire to move to the left. Stick your arm straight out! It’s not hard! Consider it a good time to stretch your shoulder. Make it obvious to the people behind you that you intend to do something. You won’t win cool points if you flip your hand and someone fails to realize what you are doing.

Check out these awesome examples from Bikeable Dallas! This is a great post, too, so check it out.

Check out these awesome examples from Bikeable Dallas! This is a great post, too, so check it out.

Bike Correctly in the Bike Lane – In the last week or two, I have come across people biking towards me in the bike lane. No! Not only is this incorrect, it’s scary – geez, we don’t have enough threats to worry about without other cyclists making it worse! If you are riding in a bike lane, you need to go the same direction as the traffic, unless of course you are in a two-way bike lane. Those, however, are few and far between outside of Pennsylvania Ave in DC, so chances are good that you are not. Seriously, it is bad enough that runners think they can run the wrong direction in a bike lane, please, please, if you are on a bike, find the proper place to be.

Biking in the direction of traffic on South Eads Street

Biking in the direction of traffic on South Eads Street (Photo from Arlington County DES Project webpage)

Stay Out of the Way If Stopped – If you need to stop for some reason, do not stop in the middle of the lane. Move to the side, so that you are not creating a potential traffic jam. If your car suddenly dies in the middle of a lane, what do you do? You try to move it out of the way of other cars. Same with a bicycle. I’ve seen kids do this and I’ve seen roadies do this. It’s unsafe.

Red Traffic Lights – Technically, bicyclists are supposed to stop at red lights. Legally, bicyclists are supposed to obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings. I make an effort to stop at red lights, so at least once a week (sometimes daily), I will see someone bike past me, then swerve into the pedestrian crosswalk to continue biking through the red light. This does not make it okay! This is still going through a red light! The pedestrians have a “don’t walk” signal too! Swerving back and forth between the road and crosswalks/sidewalks confuses me, confuses drivers and confuses pedestrians. Also, when stopping at a red light, don’t stop in the middle of the intersection and start up as soon as the opposite light turns yellow.

Whether you are new to biking, starting up again after time away, or think you know it all, brushing up on rules and etiquette during National Bike Month is a good idea, sort of like changing smoke detector batteries when the Daylight Savings ends and begins. Just get into a habit of occasionally reviewing a few websites. I’ve linked to a few of my favorites here:

“New to Biking?” by BikeArlington

“Learn Bike Etiquette From Your Legos,” WABA’s Women & Bicycles Tip

Bike Laws, summarized by WABA

Lastly, I encourage you to sign up for the National Bike Challenge, if you haven’t already. The five-month challenge rewards you for just getting on your bike, so regardless of where you go, how far you ride, and what type of bicycle you prefer, this challenge is for you! I hope to see you in the bike lanes (modeling good behavior, of course)!

See you on the trail!

See you on the trail!

ICYMI: March Mostly Clothing

March was full of clothing-related stuff, or so it seemed to me, but we did squeeze in some bike advocacy, to protest proposed cuts to the bike/walk programs. I haven’t really gone to anything like this before and was proud of The Mechanic and I for literally standing up for what we believe in, as we stood in support of all three speakers supporting our cause.  The Mechanic took some great video of my reflective pants but I haven’t had time to edit that to share. Soon.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

It had been a long time since our bikes were out on the town together! A little advocacy brought them out.

In other news, here is what else happened in March:

Reid Miller is a woman I met at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling, someone who also is interested in changing the apparel market for women’s bike clothes. She is currently conducting a survey of measurements, to create more realistic sizes of women’s clothing. Although you might not necessarily look at the numbers, I urge you to take her survey and add your measurements to mine. Share this survey far and wide – the more women-who-bike that take this survey, the better representation there will be!

– Speaking of bike clothing, did you see this Bike League Tweet about Fiks:Reflective? What do you think about this quote? “Safety sells to mothers and then sits in the bottom of a drawer.” I agree with making reflective safety gear cool and hip and desirable, and enjoy their tee shirts and wheel stripes. I’d get the wheel stripes before I’d wear the tee shirts, but I love what they are trying to do. Bike League Tweet

– Another Kickstarter bike product caught my eye, thanks to a feature on the VeloJoy website: the Lux Bicycle Pedal. This is a strap designed with fashion in mind; in fact, the quilting on it was inspired by Chanel. Can’t go wrong there! I love this Kickstarter product because I love my Power Grips but they are getting worn out, and when/if I get Fauntleroy repainted, he’ll need something fancier. My birthday isn’t that far away – maybe I can talk The Mechanic into Kickstarting me a pair!

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

Lux Bicycle Pedal (image from website)

– I did some biking around on Capital Bikeshare bikes. Seriously, I love these bikes. They are pretty much everywhere, easy to use (especially if you have an annual membership. If you want one, get it before May 1, when the membership goes up to $85 a year. Still a bargain though!), seem indestructible (although I know they are not), and best of all – you don’t have to do any maintenance on them! Although that seems like a work pitch, I really love those CaBi bikes. And speaking of work, here’s a blog post I wrote for the work blog about my commute. Does the photo look familiar?!

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

On a CaBi bike near Northside Social in Clarendon

– During our REI outting, we studied the new Ghost bikes. I pretty much love these bikes because they are German, a variant on my favorite color combination, and matte. Technical details, who cares?!? A woman’s bike that isn’t pink! Or perhaps women’s mountain bikes don’t have the pink-affliction that other genres do; I haven’t looked at enough. The Mechanic is familiar with these bikes, and we were excited to see them in person. So was Edgar. He likes them because he matches.

Now it’s April, and a busy month awaits. So too does Springtime weather, at least, we all hope it does! I’m looking forward to wearing skirts and dresses again. I can’t wait to try out my new Bikie Girl Bloomers, but I may also consider restocking my selection of Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts. Jockey has come out with a few variations, and the wicking ones are on my list for summer. Skirts are cool but wicking Slipshorts has got to be cooler!

Perfect for preserving modesty!

Perfect for preserving modesty! (image from website)

And looking ahead – if you are in Arlington (VA, not TX!), there are two women-specific events coming up that I encourage you to check out. One is next week, the BikeArlington Zen Around the City Yoga & Biking for Women event on Tuesday, April 7th. The one they hosted two years ago was a huge success, so make sure to check out this one! And I noticed that the Revolution Cycles shop in Clarendon had a sign out for a Ladies’ Night on April 15th. I’ll probably go to this, and see which non-biking friend I can drag with me. RSVP soon and see you there!

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.

Really guys? Pink and purple? This is why I love the orange and teal Ghost bike.

 

 

 

 

 

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….