Friday, August 29, 2014

Mutimodal Commuting - Park Your Bike and Ride the Tram

Valet bike parking at the base of the Portland Aerial Tram.
No one would dispute that Portland, Oregon, is forward thinking when it comes to fueling the bike transportation boom. While visiting on vacation this month, it came as a delightful surprise to discover a full bike parking facility at the base of an aerial tram. Bike parking is free and open to all, though used primarily by OHSU workers employed at the upper campus. A cyclist can take advantage of the bike valet service then hop on the tram for a 4 minute ride, saving a 500 foot uphill slog.

Go By Bike operates the valet service.
As a family we didn't have easy access to bikes. Instead, we experienced multimodalism on our own terms: drove to ride lightrail (with a bus link because of construction on rail tracks), walked as far as our teens could handle, then hopped on a street car, arriving at the base of the Portland Aerial Tram. I had little time to photograph the new found valet parking before I was whisked aboard the next tram car. And what spectacular views of the city! It was there that I became intrigued with the Tilikum Bridge.

Read more about the OHSU Bike Program.

Go By Bike has a nifty 2 minute video that includes parking and tram ride. If you look closely you can see the streetcar. Also, many folks board the tram with bicycles. Check it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Ride Leads to Discovery: The Black Snake Affair

Following the Intervale Trail through fertile farmland, I stopped to inspect a new sign near the Winooski River. 

The Champlain Valley is abundant with history because of shared border with Canada, making Lake Champlain a major transportation waterway in early settlement times. Vermonters were also on the frontier, claiming and printing their own currency, unwilling to join the original 13 colonies, holding out for a dozen years before giving in.

It comes as little surprise that residents refused to head the 1808 Embargo Act placed against trade with British Canada. The Black Snake vessel was in the Winooski River ready to smuggle downstream a load of potash when a Revenue Cutter seized the boat. A confrontation developed and Black Snake's crew killed three men.

A area roped off to approximate the Black Snake's size. I read the temporary placards, which informed about potash in early history. Potash is made by running water through ash, and used as ingredient in gunpowder and as fertilizer. The display was removed when I pedaled by two days later
Three men were tried, but only one was sentenced for hanging. Cyrus Dean was executed in front of 10,000 Burlington people. He was "swung off".

I shared my historical discovery with Garage Sale Ride ladies (sadly, only my co-leader and friend attended). We picnicked at a nearby community gardens. And interestingly, one person had never ridden through the Intervale, on either dirt or paved pathways, so all was not lost. I was happy to introduce an alternative way through Burlington and share new found history; I purchased a book at a sale, and one lady bought a tool. All on a bright blue sky morning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

At Peace with My Love of the Bicycle

Early morning walk along a bike path, edging the Columbia River, Oregon. Visually
serene, but automobile commuters rumble nearby, just past the grassy berm.
 We seek our peaceful moments when we can.
In recent years, like many people who are confronted with health issues, or aging parents, job prospects, sick friends or children - what many refer to as "life"- it's a reminder that time does not stand still and we deal with changes as they come.

Bicycles have become an integral part of my happiness, more-so now than ever.

Years ago, I shut TV media off, getting news bits from Internet headlines, on my own terms. It started with 911, which coincided with when I became a mother. I watch happy movies, for the most part, controlling the amount of violence in screen-viewing drama and read novels that transport me to other parts of the world. It's a mental coping mechanism that works for me.

At the same time I started riding more, for errands mostly, to find that "happy place". Adding bike overnights, occasional rides with my husband, and short rides with our children, contributed to not exactly euphoria, but to a peaceful place - a place where I feel calm, think clearly, connect on a digital free level, and can contemplate next steps, whatever those may be.

And, just as importantly, my family, in-laws, parents, seemingly understand when I announce I'm off for a couple hours, a day away, or for a weekend alone. I always return, refreshed.

I long ago realized that my body needs to move. And I see the same restless characteristic in our youngest boy.

I am at peace, finally. I'm happy. And while I have other creative outlets, I'm thankful I've figured out that cycling is a source of contentment on many levels.

Where does cycling fit in your life? Is is strictly for exercise or does riding satisfy something else?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Retro Bike T-shirt

Months ago I won this beautiful shirt from MG at Chasing Mailboxes What's not to like about sunflowers and bicycles?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tilikum Crossing: Passage for Alternative Commuters

As a former resident of Portland, Oregon I was pleased to spy a delightful bridge rising above the Willamette River, especially since it will offer an alternative route for cyclists in a city bursting its seams. Tilikum Bridge (people's bridge) is wide enough for light rail, pedestrians, buses, and cyclists, plus emergency vehicles - no automobiles are allowed.

I recognized the similarity with Baltimore's inner harbor pedestrian bridge, though Portland's sail-like structure is on a much grander scale. The bridge is distinct, like Portland's other crossings and will fit the landscape, further solidifying Portland as a "city of bridges". However, commuters seeking to use the Tilikum will have to wait a while longer. The bridge is not scheduled to open until late summer, 2015.