My Beautiful New Bicycle’s Internet Debut

My Beautiful New Bicycle’s Internet Debut

Now my bicycle is just over a month old and ready for her internet debut! Photos by the inimitable Elly Blue.

What Kind of Bike is That!

People ask me all the time, usually with an exclamation instead of a question mark. It’s the “Live 2” by Globe which is a new brand made by Specialized and tailored to people who ride for transportation.

This bike is not for racing, but it is perfect for life. That’s what I need anyway. I need to go to work, to the grocery store, to outreach events for my job, and I need to carry a bunch of stuff with me because I don’t drive Ever and this is my way to get around.

Hauling Supplies to Bikestravaganza!

See the giant silver circle in the middle of the back wheel? That’s my fancy 8-speed internal hub. That means that all of gears and everything I need to keep moving is contained INSIDE! Maybe, like me at first, you’d think, who cares about that?

I am telling you that it might be one of the greatest inventions since the bicycle

This means that you don’t have any messy greasy gears on the outside and your gears won’t get mucked up in the rain or snow. So if you depend on your bicycle to get you places even when the weather is undesirable, this is the ticket. (Not the only ticket, but the only one for me!)

The other incredibly wonderful part is that you can shift anytime. You don’t have to be moving! If you’re stopped at a stop light in a hard gear, you can switch back to a much easier gear for starting again when the light turns green.

I’m not kidding, friends, this has revolutionized my bicycle riding experience.

The fenders and the rack are integrated into the bicycle frame and so it’s possible to ride in the rain without getting muddy and while easily carrying tons of stuff.

This is my favorite of the five bikes I’ve owned since I made the bicycle my main form of transportation in 2006.

PS: Before bicycles I used public transportation and my feet because I lived in DC and Chicago and made my home in places with stellar public transit so I would never have to own a car. It was a great time and having the resources of public transit is essential to any city that wants to thrive and not be choked by motor vehicle traffic, air, and noise pollution.

But now I’m happy to make my own schedule and get there as fast or slow as I like.

Usually it’s pretty slow because I’m a meandering kind of gal and I like to take my time. Doesn’t mean that my time is less important than motor vehicle users, I just make my plans accordingly. And since I like my transportation, I don’t mind spending time riding slowly through the city getting where I need or want to go.

I love you bicycle!

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Check Out This Article from Momentum: Cargo Biking: Because We All Have Stuff to Haul

Check Out This Article from Momentum: Cargo Biking: Because We All Have Stuff to Haul

Momentum is one of my very favorite magazines.

They write a lot of stories about practical uses for the bicycle in everyday life for everyday people.

As a lady who has never owned a car, I love the possibility and practicality of  a cargo bike.

If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could (be crazy enough to) live in the United States without a car, check out this article on cargo bikes!

Because We All Have Stuff to Haul



Momentum Sept/Oct 2010

2425

pages 24-25 Table of Contents
Which Way to Go? Planning Walking and Biking Routes

Which Way to Go? Planning Walking and Biking Routes

What is important to you when you plan a bicycle or walking route?

For me it’s easy:

I just prefer

1. Shady trails or tree-lined streets

2. Car-free or car-light

I like to reduce my potential for interacting with automobiles.

Two of my bicycle riding co-workers were recently surprised when I said that a shady route was one of my main considerations — they’d never thought of it; and I was surprised they never noticed. There is a massive Pleasure Differential between riding under a tree-lined street or path and riding under the relentless sun.

What would make you walk or ride your bicycle more?

How to Create a Shopping Paradise for Pedestrians: Carfree Saturdays in the Strip District

How to Create a Shopping Paradise for Pedestrians: Carfree Saturdays in the Strip District

Broadway in Times Square is permanently car-free. Wouldn’t this be a dream in Pittsburgh? What do you think?

How could this work? Why?

What: We could close Penn Ave to cars and open it to people.

When: the busiest shopping time of the week: Saturdays 8am-4pm.

Where: in the Strip District: from 23rd St to 16th St.

How: Cars could drive and park to the Strip on Smallman and Liberty.

Why: Vendors, stores, and restaurants could display on the sidewalk and people can walk in the street.

More space to walk means more people means more business for businesses!

If you’ve ever walked down this packed shopping district on Saturdays in Pittsburgh you’ve noticed how crowded every spot is. Traffic moves slowly because there are so many people and those cars could easily be diverted onto the parallel streets.

If they can move cars off the main street of America, we can do it on the main street of Pittsburgh. This is a post I wrote back in February on Broadway becoming a pedestrian zone.

Broadway Now Permanently Car-free

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg of New York City made an historic announcement that will have wide-reaching implications for street design and public space transformation around the country.

Broadway in Times Square (42nd St. to 47th St) and Herald Square (33rd St. to 35th St) will now be permanently closed to traffic. What initially started as an experiment to improve public safety and traffic flow in May 2009 is being widely touted as an outstanding success.

The result? Traffic speeds are up on diverted routes, pedestrian and motorist injuries have plummeted (down 63%), businesses are benefiting from increased foot traffic, noise pollution is down and the area is dominated by people rather than modes of transportation.

The move to make these stretches of Broadway permanently car-free is supported by 74% of people who work in the area, according to a survey conducted by the Times Square Alliance.

Take a look at the stark difference in the Before and After pictures of Times Square:

The transformation has widespread support from the business community as well and was called “a 21st century idea”by Dan Biederman, director of the 34th Street Partnership (thanks to Streetsblog).

Last October I argued that temporary transformation is a more effective and legitimate way to gauge public opinion:

“People are used to roads and streets and public space being devoted to cars. That’s why it is essential to make the changes initially and give people the opportunity to feel and experience the delight of a public plaza and then to vote. New York and San Francisco are making temporary changes to demonstrate the value of returning space to people and have promised to return them to business as usual if that’s what people want.”

I’ll repeat: If you build cities for cars, you get cars. If you build cities for people, you get people.

New York did this and people love it. The rest of the country should begin following suit immediately.

Manhattan Will Ban Private Cars By 2020

Manhattan Will Ban Private Cars By 2020

That’s my prediction.

Or will it be San Francisco? Or Washington, DC?

Someone’s got to do it, who will be first? Will it be a South American City?

Maybe Medellín or Bogotá?

Or maybe a European city: Copenhagen or Amsterdam?

Or perhaps Asia will take advantage of its density and invest primarily in public transportation. What about Beijing?

I wonder if the United States will become an innovator again or if we’ll continue unimaginatively trailing the world and throwing all our weight, money, resources and land at obsolete technology.

Nine Years as a Car-free Lady!

Nine Years as a Car-free Lady!

Today is my nine year anniversary of living without a car!

When I graduated from college, I just didn’t want to spend my money on a car. I wanted to buy new shoes and eat at a million new restaurants! So I moved to Chicago where I could take the bus or train anywhere I wanted day or night, close to my house.

And when I left Chicago, I moved to Washington, DC. I lived in five different neighborhoods: H Street NE, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, and Brookland.

While I was never more than a few steps away from a bus or train, I could walk to plenty of places as well. Numerous grocery stores, farmers markets, ethnic markets, restaurants, bars, parks were easily walkable for many parts of DC. (And many that have far fewer resources of course).

Owning a car seemed like a waste of money and time. Most of the people I saw in cars were sitting in traffic. Not many looked like they were enjoying themselves.

And they were paying money do to it.

I took the bus and train in DC for several years before I decided to save some dollars, make my own schedule and start riding a bicycle.

I had no idea how much I would love it!

After a few months I found a bicycle that I could afford, I liked, and that fit me. I’m kind of short!

Me and a sunflower I grew at my house in DC last year.

(PS: I didn’t  have a camera for several years so I am lacking in some photographic evidence, but if you’d like to see some more pictures of my garden, go here!)

I would have started riding a bike all the time, every day and night, had I known how much more free I felt!

I bought my first bike for $300 after years of not really riding and within the first week I rode 80 miles. I’ve never raced or competed or considered it. I use my bicycle to get around and I spend almost no money on transportation, PLUS I get in shape!

Everyone does push-ups at their going away party, right?

And though this might be a bit late…

If you’ve ever considered biking for transportation, tomorrow is a great day to start.

It’s National Bike to Work Day! Events, group rides, and free food are happening all over the country. Check your local bike advocacy organization for information!

Pittsburgh’s Bike to Work Day coincides with the first of a series of Carfree Fridays happening around the city for the summer.

In the Market for a New Name

In the Market for a New Name

I want a new name.

Not personally, but for my little piece of real estate on the internet. I selected “One Night Lemonade Stand” in the middle of the night and it is too long and too irrelevant to stick with for much longer. I had no idea when I started this blog that I’d do it for longer than a minute and so it seemed important just to start writing instead of wobbling indecisively trying to think of a brilliant name.

I’ve had a number of people offer to help redesign the layout, but it seems like a waste of time and effort while I’m stuck with this clunky web address.

“Reimagine an Urban Paradise” is more to the point but is also a burden to the mouth to say and for the ear to hear. It feels like I have marbles and bricks in my mouth every time I say it. So I’m looking to you, gentle readers, for your feedback and opinions.

I like cities, density, the transformative power of bicycles, public transportation, people, trains, gardens, being car-free and making it possible for people to live that way, clean air, safe streets, art, public art, murals block parties, getting to know my neighbors, libraries, and you.

If you have a succinct idea for my website’s new name that can convey this, I will give you credit on new flashy site as well as buy you an ice cream at Oh Yeah! if you’re in Pittsburgh, or the next time you come here.

How can you resist that? Eternal internet fame and an ice cream cone! Here are some images from a mural in the works in my neighborhood to help inspire.

Mural in the works on the Northside

This mural is being painted on the side of one of the buildings of the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh which provides a furnished house, a living stipend, medical coverage, and help to writers who have been persecuted or threatened with death in their native countries.

Thoughts from an Urban Visionary – Enrique Peñalosa

Thoughts from an Urban Visionary – Enrique Peñalosa

“A premise of the new city is that we want a society to be as egalitarian as possible. For this purpose, quality-of-life distribution is more important than income distribution. [And quality of life includes] a living environment as free of motor vehicles as possible.” – Enrique Peñalosa

I stumbled onto the website of the Project for Public Spaces the other day and was revisiting the work of Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia whose ideas have been very influential to my own. When I decided to start planning a Carfree Day in Washington, DC in 2007, I had stars in my eyes and was imagining a city-wide stoppage of car usage such as happened in Bogotá in February 2000 for the first Carfree Day under the leadership of Enrique Peñalosa.

Over 600,000 residents left their cars at home and walked, cycled, or took the bus in Bogotá, this is what I was hoping to see happen in Washington, DC. According to the BBC, “The empty streets marked a tremendous change for Bogota. Usually, the morning and evening rush hours bring paralysis to the city streets, and every year more than 1,000 people are killed in road accidents in Bogotá.”

The change faced some resistance initially but was popular enough that people voted for a referendum to adopt a “yearly car free day and decided that from the year 2015 onwards, there would be no cars during rush hours, from 6 AM to 9 AM and from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM.”

This radical change in regulation and perspective on the part of the government and residents show a dedication to re-creating their city with a focus on people rather than cars. Here are some notable quotes from Peñalosa on his building cities with children in mind, creating cities that are “marvelous”! (Thanks to the Project for Public Spaces for compiling).

  • “We had to build a city not for businesses or automobiles, but for children and thus for people. Instead of building highways, we restricted car use. … We invested in high-quality sidewalks, pedestrian streets, parks, bicycle paths, libraries; we got rid of thousands of cluttering commercial signs and planted trees. … All our everyday efforts have one objective: Happiness.”
  • “Over the past 80 years we have been building cities for cars much more than for people. If only children had as much public space as cars, most cities in the world would become marvelous.”
  • “The importance of pedestrian public spaces cannot be measured, but most other important things in life cannot be measured either: Friendship, beauty, love and loyalty are examples. Parks and other pedestrian places are essential to a city’s happiness.”

We need to follow his example in the United States to eliminate the horrendous congestion that is dominating our landscape.

If you’ve got several minutes, check out this interview with Mr. Peñalosa by Streetfilms:

For more on Enrique Peñalosa’s other accomplishments and background, visit the Project for Public Space.