Archive of ‘featuring . . .’ category

Guest Post: Multimodal commuting in Nashville

train

Today’s guest blog post is from my friend Whitney, a dedicated member of the Nashville Bike Brunch gang. She had an adventure in multimodal commuting last Friday, when she used car + B-cycle + Music City Star to get to her office in (Hip) Donelson. Definitely something I’ve never done before! 

On Friday, I went on a bit of an adventure. My car had to go to the shop for the day, and it turned out that none of my coworkers who live in my neighborhood were available to take me to work. Trisha has mentioned before that Nashville has quite a car culture, but it does have a few public transportation options. Unfortunately for me, they’re all designed to shuttle people in and out of the downtown area, whereas I live outside the downtown core and work in the suburbs. But since the car dealership was close to downtown, I decided to use this opportunity to try out a couple of these options to get to work.

I’d always been curious about the Music City Star, a commuter train that runs in the mornings and the evenings and serves the “east corridor” of the Nashville metropolitan area. Its western terminus is downtown on the riverfront, and the train makes four stops before reaching its eastern terminus in Lebanon, about 30 miles outside of Nashville.

To get to the train station, I rented one of the new B-Cycles. There is a kiosk at Music Circle, one block from the dealership, and another at the train station. After an easy walk to Music Circle, I checked out a bike, which was a very simple process, scraped some frost off the seat, and hit the road.


I knew this would be the easy part, since I’ve ridden downtown on Demonbreun many times before and it’s downhill all the way. And the construction of Nashville’s new convention center on that road slows the traffic considerably. But I was surprised at the lack of traffic at this time of day. Even the dreaded section where Demonbreun passes over I-40 and I-65 (where off-ramps turn into cross streets and cross-streets turn into on-ramps) was very stress-free. And I was excited to see the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville on a weekday morning.


When I reached the train station, I simply popped the bike back into the kiosk and went inside to warm up before the train arrived 10 minutes later. It was amazing to see all of the commuters who use the train to get downtown from the suburbs. Dozens of people poured off the train at 8:15, the last downtown stop of the morning. Going east, however, I shared a carriage with only two other people.


I was the only person to get off the train at my stop—in fact, I don’t think it would have stopped there at all if I hadn’t told the conductor where I needed to go. A coworker kindly picked me up at the station and drove me to work.

I barely had time to turn around a take a photo before the train continued on its way

In the evening, I repeated the process—caught the train, rented a bike…and then, as I said, getting to the station was the easy part. The ride back to Music Circle is entirely uphill. And here in Nashville it’s completely dark by 5:30. Evening rush hour is evidently much busier than morning rush hour, there are no bike lanes on Demonbreun, the B-Cycles are heavy cruisers with only three speeds, and remember that the day was freezing. So…I didn’t quite make it to Music Circle. By the time I got just over halfway, I was huffing and puffing pretty violently. Looking ahead, I saw the hills I still had to climb; looking to my right, I saw a B-Cycle kiosk, and I decided to give in: I returned the bike and walked the rest of the way back, just over half a mile. I got to the dealership just as they were closing and gratefully hopped in my car.

It was a really gratifying and educational experience, and now is the time I’m supposed to draw some conclusions about this experience. I guess they are as follows:

1.) The Music City Star is amazing. It gave me a strong desire to move downtown and train/bike commute to work every day.

2.) Biking south out of downtown is difficult in the best of cases and really intimidating at night. A safer and/or easier option is needed, even if it’s just a bike lane on Demonbreun.

3.) Though the B-Cycle is a convenient option, they should consider offering seven-speeds rather than three-speeds in hilly Nashville.

3.) Working in the suburbs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to a life of sitting in traffic.

5.) There are more people voluntarily using public transportation in Nashville than I ever thought!

{Thanks, Whitney!  I have yet to try the Music City Star—maybe a trip to the outlets in Lebanon is in order. Any multimodal commuters out there? Does your city make it easy for you?}

Interview: why Sheena does not bike

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I met Sheena last fall and was interested to learn that she is an LGRAB reader but does not ride a bike.  While she was an avid bicyclist as a teen, she transitioned to driving – like most teens – once she got her license.  Now practical considerations (safety, storage, commuting distance) keep her off the bike.

I think Sheena is a great example of the type of person planners and advocates should keep mind: she would like to ride a bike and is attracted to the idea of transportation cycling, at least for short trips, but will only do so if she views it as safe, convenient, and practical.  I am interested in exploring this more, so I asked Sheena if she would answer some questions and she graciously agreed.

First, tell us a little about yourself and your commute.

Hi!  My name is Sheena.  I recently received my MA in advertising and now work as an Interactive Project Manager .  I live in the Western Suburbs, about 10 miles outside of Chicago.  I currently work downtown and I commute via Metra train on most days.

What is your history with bicycling?

Biking was my main mode of transportation when I was a teen.  I grew up a bit further out and lived near quite a few biking trails, so that was a popular activity when I was younger.  We’d compete with one another by racing up steep hills without trying to fall.   We’d also set records for each other to see who could bike the furthest in a day—without getting in trouble for leaving town.

When did you stop bicycling  and why?

Pretty much the moment I got my first car at 16.  I was the first in my group of friends to get a car, but everyone else did soon after.  Biking to the local mall was less attractive when you had a car and we were able to go further distances.  Basically, biking was no longer convenient for us anymore and unfortunately we did not retain biking as a hobby.

What keeps you from bicycling now?

I’d say the lack of being able to use it as a commuting vehicle.  I think that if I lived in the city, it’d be much easier for me to bicycle and get around.  Biking into the city from the suburbs would obviously be difficult.  When I’m not taking the train to work, I mostly drive if I’m around in the suburbs or walk around my own neighborhood.   Couple the lack of opportunities to ride a bike with lack of place to store a bike, and it’s been hard for me to justify buying a bike.

When I do have the inkling to ride, I always look into renting a bike for a daytrip along the lakefront, which makes me nostalgic for my earlier biking days.  It’s still an activity that I enjoy and it brings me to a different place.

What are the top two things the city could do to help make bicycling more viable to you?

1.    I’d say safety.  Yes, I understand the city has come a long way, but I’ve seen more bike riders hit by cars than I’d care to.  I look to blogs (like Let’s Go Ride a Bike) for tips and to learn more about advocacy, but I think the city can do a bit more to ensure safety for bikers.

2.    More advocacy.   This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the safety issue, but this is a huge driving city or public transportation city.  While both of those options are fine, I think the city could do more to encourage the more reluctant population to bike to work by naming incentives and the benefits of doing so.

Earlier you mentioned that lack of bicycle storage is a hurdle for you.  Could you talk about that?

Yes, lack of storage for my bicycle is a huge issue.  I live on the top floor of a smaller apartment with no basement storage.  Since my apartment is smaller inside, there really is very little room for me to place a bike and it’s looked down upon for us to hang anything if I wanted to.  I’d consider a bike to be an important investment, so I’d want to make sure I could store it in a safe place.

How did you come upon Let’s Go Ride a Bike and what do you get from reading it?  

I love reading blogs, especially Chicago-based blogs.  This is pretty much my go-to blog to read about cycling, biking tips and learning about the bicycling community.  While I’ve seen people cycling in regular clothes, I had not previously found any tips that cover the topic like this blog.  Plus, I love the idea of seeing a community of passionate bicyclers who share their stories and view biking as much more than a hobby.

{Thanks so much to Sheena for answering our questions!  I might have to start grilling everyone I know who does not bike.}

Bike·a·Bee: urban beekeeping meets city cycling

I recently received an email from Jana Kinsman, a long-time reader and year-round Chicago cyclist, about a very cool project she is beginning with the help of Kickstarter called Bike·a·Bee.

With Bike·a·Bee, Jana aims to bring beehives to community gardens all around Chicago. She will be an urban beekeeper who visits every hive herself by bike. The entire operation will be car-free.

Jana Kinsman of Bike·a·Bee, photo by John Greenfield of Grid Chicago

She had me at bicycles and honeybees, but I especially enjoyed hearing that “honeybees are a female-run society. The queen bee is in charge, and all of the worker bees are female. Drones, the males, are essentially around for mating purposes :)”

Love it.

In order to make all this work, Jana needs to raise money to pay for the operation, including a bike trailer and beehives. Her goal is $7,000 and she must raise the entire amount by February 7th.

This is the kind of stuff I want to see in my community, so I decided to support the project personally as a bike trailer backer. When the project gets going, there will be an LGRAB logo on the trailer. Fun!

Anyone can become a backer by investing $1 or more to help get the project going. Other rewards for becoming a backer of the Bike·a·Bee Kickstarter project including bee postcards, bee stickers, bee posters, and bee honey! Plus, you’ll get the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with helping a project start and watching it grow.

By helping fund Bike·a·Bee, you are casting a vote for sustainability and urban agriculture as much as you are earning some sweet gifts! As Bike·a·Bee launches, we’ll begin creating webisodes to document our process and share the story. You’ll be there as we set up our first hives in the spring, check on the bees throughout the summer, harvest honey in the early fall, and tuck them in for the winter. You’ll be with us from the start because, without your support, a project of this scope wouldn’t be possible.

As of this posting, she has raised $6,236 of her $7,000 goal.

Let’s help push her to her goal and beyond!

{For more information about Jana and her project, read the excellent interview by John Greenfield on Grid Chicago.}

Love for Atlanta Bicycle Chic

I have a new blog love: Atlanta Bicycle Chic!

This is a fabulous blog filled with original photography of stylish cyclists around Atlanta.  Such a high-quality blog focused on bicycle street style with posed portraits is a rare gem  (the only other that comes to mind is Chicago’s Bike Fancy).  If you’re not already familiar, you should check it out immediately!

Looking through the archives really makes me want to visit and ride around Atlanta!

 

 

 

 

Atlanta Bicycle Chic is an off-shoot of the style blog Atlanta Street Fashion, both by photographer Cameron Adams.  I had a quick email chat with Cameron to learn more about his blog and Atlanta bicycling.

Cameron Adams on a Bianchi Milano

What made you decide to start a blog dedicated to Atlanta bicycle fashion?

Great looks are everywhere and bikes make stylish accessories.  The convergence of street fashions and city cycling is a global trend and one worthy of its own forum, so I started Atlanta Bicycle Chic.

I think of Atlanta as a car-centric, traffic-heavy city. What is the bicycling scene like?

Yes, Atlanta is a car-centric town, but bike commuters are daily shaping the future. One leading the way is Rebecca Serna of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and organizer of our Heels on Wheels. ABC also organizes group rides like the BeltLine (Atlanta’s rails-to-trails project) Tour and has participated in a mass ride to the state capitol campus in support of the three foot law. Progressive politicians like Kwanza Hall keep our infrastructure needs at the forefront of the city’s legislative agenda.

You often feature photos from the Heels on Wheels ride. Could you tell how readers in the Atlanta area could join?

Interested? Look to their facebook page. The ladies meet on first Saturdays spring, summer and fall for leisurely rides on Peachtree Street for fun and fellowship.

What is your personal history with bicycling?

A younger version of me commuted in the streets of my hometown Richmond, Virginia, but now I ride daily for exercise on the lovely riverside trails in north Atlanta and take my bike into town by MARTA rail or car for style blogging expeditions. Both Bill Cunningham and Scott Schuman know there’s nothing like being a pedestrian for intercepting other pedestrians.


Thanks to Cameron for maintaining Atlanta Bicycle Chic and for taking the time to chat!



{Check out other Atlanta-area bike blogs, Sweet Georgia Brown, I Dream of Bicycling, and Cycle Kabob. Who did I miss?}

Mid-life Cri-cycle

Last month, reader Bethany made a delightful comment on my Velorbis Dannebrog review, sharing the tale of her new Velorbis, which she labeled her “mid-life cri-cycle.”  I responded that if she wanted to send a photo, I would love to share it with everyone here.  Today I checked my email and there it was, “Bethany’s Velorbis,” totally brightening up my morning.

Bethany and Her Velorbis Dannebrog

Bethany’s original comment:

Mine just came in and I love it! My 50th birthday present, I call it my mid-life cri-cycle. I chose the Velorbis over a heavier Dutch bike since we have plenty of hills in Kansas City. The flat lands everyone thinks of don’t start for another 200 miles or so. And who wouldn’t fall for the color. I just had to have it!

This bike is the most comfortable bike I ever ridden. It leaves simply no excuse in my mind for not riding a bike, as long as you have two legs that move. I look forward to the day when bike stores everywhere have these bikes. Until then, I give high marks to My Dutch Bike in San Francisco, where I bought my Velorbis.

I ride 4 miles each way to work and park it in the administrative area of my office. I found a lovely back street route. I’m proactive with the bell–people backing out don’t always see me–and take my lane. So far so good.

Thanks, Dottie, for introducing me to Dutch bikes, and transportation biking. I started following your blog after I read about you in Yes! Magazine.

Yay! Love it. Thanks for sharing, Bethany.

Does anyone else have a “mid-life cri-cycle?” What kind of bike would you choose?

Newcity Cover Story: the Martha Stewart of Chicago biking

Last week John Greenfield interviewed me for a cover story in Newcity, a Chicago news and arts weekly. I enjoyed chatting about bicycling with him over a beer and the story came out quite nicely. Apparently, I am the Martha Stewart of Chicago biking! I want business cards with that title.

One funny thing about the paper layout, though. The Pitchfork bike cut-out is grouped with two photos of me and before reading the interview (which mentions the objectification issue), people may think it’s also a representation of me. My co-workers were joking, Is that you after a few drinks??

You can read the full text and see more photos at Grid Chicago, where John blogs with Steve Vance about transportation issues. If you’re in Chicago, you can pick up a paper copy at any pink Newcity dispenser around the city.

Thanks, John!

Roll Models: Amy, the Crafty Commuter

Our latest “Roll Model” is Amy of Bobbin & Sprocket, who bicycle commutes in East Tennessee—when she’s not making cool bike accessories, that is. We asked Amy a few questions about her mixte obsession, the  reasons she loves working on bikes, the riding scene in East Tennessee and more.

Amy and Hedwig

Describe your bicycling style in three words.
Go. To. Work. Really, that’s pretty much it! I have two jobs. One about 1/2 mile from home in which I can wear whatever, and the other 5 miles from home that I need to dress grungy for. My bike has been adapted to fit these two lifestyles. It’s fairly upright, can hold my travel mug of tea in the morning, can carry what I need to take with me (and I usually have to haul a good deal to and from the barn in the evening), it’s comfortable and speedy and has worked out to be just a really good tool for getting around on. Now, once the Pashley arrives this may change a little. ;)

You’re a mixte girl–tell us why!
The first adult bike I had was my mom’s ’73 Fuji Dynamic 10, which is a mixte. It was the bike I learned how to shift a derailleur on, and to ride with drop bars. I just always liked the sporty yet practical feel of the mixte frame. I still have the Fuji, having been reunited with it over the summer. It’s in pieces right now, waiting for me to replace a bunch of parts.

How long have you been riding a bike?
Most of my life really. My dad was big into cycling when I was little, so he started me out young. By time I was 10ish I was getting around to all my friends houses (and some forbidden places mom didn’t know about!) by bike. By the time I was in high school though, we had moved way out into the country (My fault. Bought a horse and mom and dad din’t want to have to pay boarding.) We were half an hour car ride to the nearest shopping center and cycling ceased to be a practical way to get around. So from about 1991 to about 2 years ago I really didn’t do much cycling. Then I picked up a 1969 Hercules 3 speed on Craigslist and it all started coming back to me!

Where are your favorite places to ride?
I usually find favorites by accident. Just set out along some country road and see where it goes. Since I live in a mostly rural area, I love taking advantage of the scenic routes. I live about 4 miles from Boone Lake, and have a couple of favorite routes to get there. I also like hauling out to Kingsport to ride on the Greenbelt. I’m hoping to try the Virginia Creeper this summer too.

You have an etsy shop that sells handmade bike accessories — how did you get started with this?
I’ve always been a maker of things. Usually if I see something that I want, I figure out a way to make it instead of just buying it. Skirt guards are hard to come by in this country, crochet guards especially. So since I can crochet I sat down one night with some yarn and a hook and went to town. I decided put them up on Etsy and make them available to others. I’ve got two crochet guards now, available as ready to use items and as a pattern for the DIYrs as well. I’m also working on some stretchy netted guards and tooled leather accessories.

Tell us about cycling in Eastern Tennessee–what’s the culture like? Do you see a lot of other riders?
Cycling in Eastern Tennessee is pretty much for sport/ recreation. During the summer months I see some sport cyclists on the roads, and tend to see lots of MTBs on car racks. There are lots of bike trails around like the Virginia Creeper Trail and the Kingsport Greenbelt. We do have a couple of bike lanes on Johnson City, though they don’t really take you anywhere. Every once in a great while I will see someone riding for transport (in the 4 years that we have lived here I can count those times on one hand though). There may be a little bit more cycling around the ETSU campus. I have a co-worker who is a student there and she brings her MTB to campus in her car, then uses it to get around to her classes. She says that there are other students there that do the same. I’ve also seen a handful of bikes downtown. Now, in Kingsport I’ve seen just a little bit more transportation cycling. They have the Greenbelt there, which connects a good deal of the neighborhoods to businesses.

What inspires you to keep cycling?
I just love it! The fresh air, the exercise. Not needing to own two cars. Fitting into size 1 jeans again while still enjoying copious amounts of chocolate! Also, I love working on bikes. Finding old bikes and taking them apart, getting greasy, figuring them out and making them work again is a lot of fun for me. So if I’m going to keep a bunch of bikes around, I need to be riding to justify the herd!

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?
I think that they first thing I would say to do is start small and work your way up. Buy a bike, any bike that feels comfortable and just ride it around in your neighborhood, apartment complex, a park or wherever you feel safe. I did this every evening for about 6 months before I felt confident enough to go back out on the streets. Plan a trip! The first time I decided to venture out by bicycle I actually went and drove it, paying attention to the terrain, condition of the roads, whether there was a good shoulder or not. I looked for safe places to stop if I needed to. For while I would plan a trip using Google maps street view to try to get an idea of the lay of the land if I was going down a road I had never been on before. Now I just get on and go, figuring it out along the way. Learn your local laws regarding cycling too. Reading up on TN’s laws actually made me feel more confident about getting out there. Don’t let rude drivers get you down, and have fun!

{Thanks Amy! You can find out more about Amy—and her bicycle crafts!—on Bobbin & Sprocket. Read about our past Roll Models here.}

My Hyggelig Feature

My Hyggelig, one of my favorite blogs that is celebrating its 4th birthday today, has been publishing a series on creative female bike bloggers in the month of January, and yesterday featured an interview with me.  I suggest that you head over there and check out the other features on Kara of Knitting Lemonade, LC of Naturally Cycling: Manchester, and Meli of Bikes and the City, a truly inspirational group!

Me and Coco in the snow

Commuting update: Yesterday I biked to work wearing a pinstripe pants suit with a white puffy down vest over the suit jacket and that kept me warm enough in 18 degrees, although I may have looked a little funny.  Today I’m heading for the L train, as a blizzard is expected to start this afternoon and dump 1.5 feet on Chicago.  Later!

Bike Fancy Showcases Chicago Cycle Chic

Attention everyone: you must check out the new blog Bike Fancy. Pro photographer Martha Williams is documenting stylish cyclists in Chicago and sharing them with the world, including a selection of her own cycle chic looks.

Martha photographs Emily

A resource showcasing Chicago Cycle Chic has been a missing link in our bike community and I’m super excited that Bike Fancy is here to pick up this slack. I look forward to watching the gallery grow!

Women-who-bike brunch

My inaugural women-who-bike brunch took place on Sunday. The focus was on enjoying good food and even better company, while bikes took a backseat as a tool for transportation and for connecting us all in the first place. To this end, a dozen awesome women rode their bikes without ceremony, in their regular clothes, and proceeded to chat for three fun hours. Here is but a sampling of the awesomeness that ensued.

Women who bike – photo by Martha Williams

Rebecca! of Active Trans

Emily! of Po Campo

Samantha! of Ding Ding Let's Ride

Martha! of Bike Fancy

Janet and Patty

The group checks out Po Campo prototypes

Me – photo taken by Martha Williams with my film camera

Are you a woman in the Chicago area who would like to join us in the future? Email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. If you’ve sent me your email before but did not get the message about the brunch, please re-send. I might have indadvertedly left some people out.

I must sound like a broken record but women who bike are pretty much without fail smart, fun and cool. :)

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