Category Archives: interview

Kidical Mass Jingle Bell Ride Wrap Up

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There was so much energy in the air and on the streets of the South Side neighborhood last night. We left our house with an hour of daylight left planning to meet up with a handful of friends who said they’d ride with us for a Jingle Bells & Holiday Lights Kidical Mass. The RSVP numbers were in the mid teens, with another dozen maybes, yet, I didn’t expect them all to show up. I was bouncing out of my saddle when I pulled into the park. I saw several folks unloading bikes, pumping tires, adjusting helmets in the parking lot. As I approached the fountain, the numbers multiplied. Dozens of cyclists not only made an appearance, they decorated their bikes! One middle schooler was elfishly dressed, with gift wrapped saddle and helmet. There was tinsel. Bows. Lights. Bells. Ribbon. Hats. Presents. Ho ho ho pants. The whole tri-state was represented, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia residents.

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(photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

I wasn’t able to get a photo of everyone before the ride, and I wished I could have. It was their creativity, their presence that made last night so wonderful. So much joy. Brent did capture a lot of video, please take a look. He got up very early to put this together for you.

Kidical Mass December 2012 from Brent Patterson on Vimeo.

Our group of 42 stretched a block. I’d be at a stop sign in the front and see Brent at the tail, just crossing an intersection. The traffic was light, so while we didn’t roll a group through stop signs, it was often possible for large portions of us to cross or turn together. It is important to teach the children where the signs and lights are, how to read them, and what is an appropriate and safe action. Several parents helped us turn right onto a four lane, then left at the next light onto a side street. Keeping the children to our right side as much as possible and behind the lead rider (moi) and in front of the sweep (Brent). When crossing back to the park we had to be a bit more aggressive by corking the crosswalk so everyone could return safely.

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Another factor I wasn’t planning, but played very well for my jingle, were the bumpy brick streets. It was akin to mogul skiing. The brick was sometimes bumpy, but the dips and mounds were amusing. My bells rung gayly.

(photo credit: Dennis Blevins)
(Photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

Holiday music would have pushed the ride up to the top notch. As it was, it was fantastic, but a little holly jolly holiday tuneage would have made it twinkle. Then again, no one would have been able to hear me give directions and check in with the children about cold toeses and runny noses.

ACE riders! (photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

The weather was amazing, and I do think that much of the success of the ride was because of the uncontrollable. We saw 50Fs during the day and they began to dip with sunset. I’d say it was still upper 40s when we arrived with a smidgen of light left and only lower 40s or high 30s when we embarked for home. The roads were dry, all the snow and ice from Friday nights Critical Mass having melted away. The winds dissipated and we rolled merrily along.

Every ride around the world has their own take on a Kidical Mass to meet the needs of their community. If you are inspired to plan your own Kidical Mass ride, and you have my full encouragement, please check out these links.

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iPhone panoramic view A of our Gino’s Pizza, post ride, dinner group. We filled the house!
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iPhone panoramic feature. One point of view of the dinner group. A group of ACE members joined us for the ride, sans children, which made their appearance even more special. I love that everyone felt comfortable and welcome to join us.
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We parked in the lot at Ginos Pizza after the ride, where more than half the riders joined us for dinner! I forgot to flip my Kidical Mass sign down for the ride (and press!) but did so for this photo (taken through the shop window).
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Musical bikes. Avery (6yo) rode with Oliver and I for the ride and with Brent for the to and from home portion. We packed extra everything. Good thing too, as Avery dunked his gloved hands into the icy fountain at the park.
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Oliver (3yo), bundled up in the PeanutShell on the Yuba. He insisted on the scarf, which doubled as a hand muff, as he wouldn’t wear his gloves. The windbreaker jacket, tied on backward around the seat, covered his pajama pants, which were a base layer under his daytime pants which he removed earlier. We choose our battles.

For more takes on this Jingle Bell ride, check out the gallery and article in the Herald Dispatch today.

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Yuba Bread Basket Liner DIY Tutorial

We love our Bread Basket on the Yuba Mundo. It took some coordination of efforts and the kindness of strangers, but we managed to find this basket at Calhoun Cycle in Minnesota, and reader, Nicole Nafziger, picked it up to make a custom basket liner before shipping the whole kit-and-kaboodle down to West Virginia. This scenario played out as part of an effort to bring you the DIY Tutorial. I am very excited to share with you Nicole’s extensive work in lining up photos and instruction with a fun narrative. Now, ride out to your fabric store, or upcycle something from home, to crank out your own liner! It is certain to expand the function of your Bread Basket.

 

How to make a Yuba Bread Basket Infinitely More Functional? Add a Basket Liner, Of Course!

And if you’re going to bother to do it, you might as well make it fun! ~~designed, written, & documented by Nicole Nafziger

When we first got our Yuba Mundo in June 2012, we elected not to purchase the Bread Basket, thinking we’d have plenty of capacity with just the Go-Getter bag. It quickly became apparent that having a basket, when two kids were taking up space on the deck, would be invaluable.

For all its brilliance in design—the frame mounting especially, but also the sizing and capacity, the Bread Basket has a mostly open bottom. That’s great if you have a package or a box that’s larger than the gaps between the bars, but what if you just want to throw your helmet, your purse, your keys, kids’ coats and mittens, etc. etc. in there? Clearly, it needed something, and that something would require dusting off the sewing machine, because I couldn’t think of anything, aside from a perfectly-sized cardboard box, that would do the trick. And, if I was going to dust off the sewing machine, I was sure going to make it fun! I mean, biking with kids on board is already a high profile activity, and really, don’t you want to be as visible as possible with your kids on board? So, I was dreaming of bright colors and fun fabrics…

When I started thinking about fabric—I thought I’d probably use a home-decorator-weight fabric and use something like a piece of flat plastic or some foam core to make a sturdy bottom. I imagined I would French Seam everything to make it neat and tidy with matching ties or webbing to attach it to the basket. It would be great! And with that in mind, off to my favorite little local fabric store in St. Paul I went!

Treadle Yard Goods carries all sorts of wondrous fabrics that you just don’t see in the big box places, and even though you pay a premium for all that variety, you usually end up with something fabulous in the end. Once again, it did not disappoint. This store carries a rather large selection of oil cloth fabrics:

Hmmm… waterproof. Not a bad idea on a bike.

Easily washable or able to be wiped clean: not a bad idea when transporting foods, beverages, and all things child-related.

A relatively stiff structure: we might be on to something here…. No need for a foam or plastic base!

Oh, and don’t forget the very colorful and coordinating fabric selection! Yowza!

It all started to come together when I saw a reusable grocery sack made of oilcloth hanging on the wall. Bingo! This was going to work!

I decided to double-layer everything to help retain structure, and provide the opportunity to use more than one fabric print. I chose a green apple and green and white stripe fabric for my Boda Boda (one Yuba just wasn’t enough!), and a Dr. Suess-themed “laminated cotton” for the Mundo. The laminated cotton would require three layers for rigidity, so I planned to put an oil cloth layer in the middle.

The example grocery bag used binding tape all around the cut edges, which really had a nice look to it, and the coordinating ties attaching it to the basket could use the same tape (it matches and it was one less thing to buy—double win!).

Armed with my yard goods, I went home and started putting it all together. My first attempt with the green version went splendidly. The only flaws we noticed, after attaching it to the basket and using it for a little while, were:

1) When empty, it sounded like a bass drum accompanying you down the road

2) A pocket for keys and a phone would be awfully nice

3) I didn’t attach the ties perfectly to the binding in places, and where I did it directly to the oilcloth, it was starting to tear a little bit

However, as we expected, it made the usefulness of the Bread Basket go up exponentially! This basket can hold a serious amount of stuff! And if you don’t have to worry about placing things “just right” so nothing falls out the bottom, you’ve got yourself a good container. (And have I mentioned how amazing the frame-mounting feature is? Seriously. How is that not the standard way to mount a basket on a bike?!?).

So, I endeavored to “fix” the flaws on my own liner and felt confident enough to cut into the Suessified version. Sadly, this did not go as planned. I thought a triple layer would be stiff enough. It wasn’t. I thought it wouldn’t matter which sides were just a continuation of the bottom verses added as panels. It does. I didn’t think it would matter which side the pockets were on. It does. Poor hubby’s liner just isn’t quite what we hoped it would be. He’s on the short list for a new, proper, one. It’s all form and no function. Alas. (Okay, it functions, but it’s not nearly as good).

Saggy, baggy sides and pocket
Sagging through the bottom bars

Lessons learned. We zip-tied it in place as much as we could for now. Then the opportunity have another go at it for Stacy, and put this tutorial together, fell into place. So, here is the step-by-step guide to making your very own Bread Basket liner!

Supplies:

  • 2 –19” pieces of 45” wide oil cloth fabric of your choice (do NOT substitute laminated cotton. You need the stiff stuff)
  • 2 packages of either regular or extra-wide coordinating double-folded bias tape*
  • Size 14 needles
  • 1 spool of good, sturdy thread. (Do not buy the cheap stuff! I use Mettler 100% poly, per my fabric store’s recommendation)
  • A couple sheets of tissue paper (Left over gift bag stuffing is fine)
  • A rotary cutter and a mat are highly useful, but not required

*I’ve used both and prefer the wider bias tape. The narrower works fine, and you get a few extra yards to work with, which is helpful depending on how many add-on’s you’re planning.

 

The measurements of the Yuba Breadbasket are: 18” wide x 13” deep x 6” tall. This is a bit confounded by the extra bars nearer the bike frame, so the back edge is more like 17.5” x 12.5”, but it wasn’t enough difference that I wanted to bother with trapezoids rather than rectangles. Just make sure to use up your full seam allowance—especially on the back size.
Here’s a look at the fabric selection Stacy and her daughter London settled on. Very lively!
You may want to create a square edge to work with right from the start. (Sorry for the blurry pics!)
Lay out your fabric as thus. I do like to mark the backside of the fabric before cutting with some washable markers. That way I can make sure I’ve done it right: (left side) Main Base piece 30.5″x13.5″, (right side) 2 Sides measuring 18.5″x6.5″
A better view of the layout after one piece of fabric has been cut. Base in the center, sides laid out top and bottom.
You can use the first set as a template for the second set of fabric cuts
All the layers of oil cloth laid out together. I elected to mix fabrics on both the inner and outer part of the liner. You may want to have all one design on the inside, and all one on the outside—whatever works best for you!

Shown Here: The top pieces of fabric are one long side panel of the liner (such as the front or back of the basket). The large middle pieces are the base and the panels that will wrap up the side (saves on cutting and sewing!). The bottom pieces are the other long side panel (again, front or back, since it’s a rectangle).
The view from the reverse of the fabric, pieces all laid out together.
If you are going to add pockets, pick which side panel of fabric will be facing into the basket, closest to the bike. These were your smaller rectangles. For me, it was one of the yellow-striped panels.

In the contrasting fabric, cut the size and shape pockets you’d like, and lay them out on the side panel.

I like a little smaller one with a narrower top for keys so they can’t bounce out easily. I like a little wider one, but still pretty deep, for my phone and/or wallet. You may prefer one bigger pocket, but inevitably gravity wins and your keys end up rubbing against your phone. I recommend separating them.

Stacy expressed interest in a cup holder, so I gave it a shot with a 2” wide strip of fabric that I attached in a circle to the side panel with a nice x-box and two additional side seams to snug it up more. I’m still not confident it will hold coffee as well as a handlebar mounted holder would, but it might be nice to keep a water bottle upright and close by… we’ll have to see how Stacy likes it!

Stacy’s Note: It holds a bottle in view where I need it (that under the legs on the frame thing is not easy for me), but a handle on any open top mug, hooked over the frame, keeps it from tipping, otherwise they need a firm lid, which all our water bottles have.
Now the actual sewing begins!

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP: You must use a piece of tissue paper (I even used some plain writing paper that was nearby at one point) on the top while sewing your seams, or the bottom and top pieces of fabric will not pull through your presser foot evenly. (Unless you have a walking foot, in which case you’re probably a better seamstress than I am anyway, and you should do what you know how to do!). You do not need the tissue paper when sewing the binding on though—the fabric of the tape functions the same as the tissue paper on the oilcloth.
For each pocket attachment, I sewed a strip of binding tape across the top (and bottom on cup ring only) using a fairly wide, normal length, zig-zag stitch. I then taped each pocket in place on the panel (one would normally pin them in place, but scotch tape actually works better with oil cloth) and sewed them on applique style. (A very short, fairly wide, zig-zag stitch).

Again, the pockets were added to the inside of the back of the basket, closest to the rider. For this example the cup ring is on the stokers right side and the small pocket is in reach of the left side. Adjust your pockets for your best fit.
Using an appliqué stitch to sew the pocket in place–also showing how easy it easy to tear back the tissue paper after sewing
Pocket panel ready to go. Mug not included with liner.
For the base/side liner seams, I used a normal-length straight stitch with a ¼” seam allowance (basically, I kept the edge of the fabric to the edge of the presser foot, and the needle in the middle).

You do not want to use a very short stitch on the oil cloth, because you actually weaken it the more holes you put into it.

This liner only requires two seams (excluding the pockets and binding), but it requires you to work with a sticky fabric that does not pull through your machine evenly, and you also have to turn corners and re-align some stubborn pieces. Be patient. Go slow. Don’t sweat it if the corners don’t work perfectly.

The biggest thing, is to capture all four layers of the oilcloth together and smoothly. Even if that doesn’t work perfectly, you’ll be going back over it again with the binding tape, so your mistakes won’t be completely obvious.
Your beginning corner will be the top of the short side of one of the front/back panels with the top of the long side of the main (base/side) panel. So when you sew, it will be 6” down the short side, Turn the corner of the side panel (your bottom piece will stay flat—this is tricky), 18” down the long side of the front/back panel, turn corner, 6 inches down the other short side. If you measured well, the bottom corners should more or less meet up nicely.

Second verse, same as the first. Sew the other front/back panel as before. Remembering to line up your pockets toward the inside of the basket, with seams toward the outside.
Pockets right side up, phew!
Less than perfect corners, but it works.
At this point, I decided it was a good idea to make sure it was going to fit properly inside the basket. I actually hadn’t used my full ¼” seam allowances, and it made a difference—it was running a little wide—especially on the part of the basket nearest the bike that has some extra reinforcement bars. I went back to the sewing machine and ran around that seam again (the pocket side) a little closer in. Pulling it in just that little bit made a big difference.

So, if you’re finding yours running a bit large (I purposely made mine so the corners stick out the bottom), don’t be afraid to go back and bring your seams in a little bit. You’ll just trim off the excess before adding the binding tape.
Now that we’ve finished the seams, it’s time to attach the binding tape. First, go around and trim along the edge of the seams if needed to make it nice and tidy, and close to the same distance from the seam to the edge of the fabric all the way around.

For attaching the binding, you will no longer need to use the tissue paper, and I use a fairly wide, standard length zigzag stitch. I think if you selected the wider bias tape, you could get away with a straight stitch, but with the narrower tape, it’s really hard to capture all those layers perfectly all the time—the zig-zag does a little better job.

To start, sew the binding on both of the previously sewn seams, sandwiching the seam into the open edge of the tape. Leave the top edge of the liner for the next step. When finished with each seam, trim the edges of the tape close to the top of the open liner (don’t worry about your seams unraveling, they will be sewn down again).
When affixing the binding to the top edges of the open basket liner, you will be simultaneously making the corner ties. Love another short cut!

Overlapping these pieces of bias tap at the corners is a little tricky, and slightly messy, but I found that you get less strain on the oil cloth by doing this as a continuous step.

So, taking ONLY your binding tape, and zig-zag stitch for about 3” (open side of tape to the left). Leaving your needle in the down position, pinning your cloth to the machine, raise your presser foot and slide one of the top corners of the liner into the open edge of the tape. Continue down the length of that side (any side you choose to start with is fine), and when you finish the corner, keep sewing an additional 3” of the tape without the oil cloth edge, creating the ties you will use to attach the liner to the basket. Voila! When finished, you should have two lonely ties and one top edge finished.

Do the same on the OPPOSITE side.
For the remaining two sides, you will be doing just as you did with the first two sides, starting with 3″ of tape exclusive of the liner, than feeding the liner in, but when you join up the tie part of the tape to the liner, be very careful to hold the existing tie as much out of the way as possible. Read the next step before finishing your final stretch of bias tape. When you’re finished the corners will look much like shown above and below.

Almost done! We just need to add six additional ties to keep it all in place. Two on the top edge as shown above. Four along the bottom.

While sewing that last 3″ section of bias tape for your final tie, don’t stop!, continue sewing an additional 3 feet of binding tape with the zigzag stitch. Cut into six, 6” lengths, remembering to leave the 3″ on the liner.

Still using a zig-zag stitch, but shortening the stitch width by about half, attach the center of a 6″ strip to the top edge binding tape (be careful to catch the tape, and not just the oil cloth or you’ll put too much tension on the oil cloth and it will start to tear at this stress point) in the outside center of the long sides.

To lock it down, I sewed my tiny seam forward, backwards, and forward again. I was afraid any more would start to weaken the fabric. Detail image below.

The final step is to add four extra ties to the bottom of the liner to make it more like a snare drum rather than a bass drum while you’re rolling down the road. (That’s a joke…kind of…).

Put the liner in your Breadbasket, turn it over, and mark lightly where the middle of the two bars and the liner meet. Mark the placement of the outer bars as well (not shown in the photo!).

Affix these last four ties to the bottom of the liner. Note that these are sewn directly to the oil cloth (not along any bias tape as on the top edge of the basket in the previous step). I’m hoping they don’t see too much stress and start to pull and create holes in the fabric. Using a nice wide stitch and not overdoing the sewing will help reduce oil cloth stress.
Ready to roll….or rather, ship!

Nicole did an amazing job of detailing the steps to make this liner. I didn’t want to short cut any of her hard work, or leave out anything for the beginning seamster. I was happy to see there were no pins involved, minimal measuring and cutting, and so many bright (nearly blinding) photos to go along with each and every step. We kindly ask you to use this for your own purposes, but not for resale. Give credit where it is due, you would ask for the same.

To see the many uses I have gotten out of this amazing liner and basket combo, check out this post! There have been many more since, including some of these…

Pizza box! PeanutShell lap bar and gloves underneath. Ignore those cute boys on the deck.
Groceries. Large Thirty One insulated tote, on end, and grocery bag full of bread. How appropriate right?
Diaper bag dump.
Fro yo nestled amongst coat and gloves, pre Kidical Mass ride.

Keep up with Nicole on twitter @NicoleFNafziger where she posts her own prideful hauls, including children, tomatoes, and lawn mowers, on their Yuba Mundo and Yuba Boda Boda, complete with stylish and exceptionally function Bread Baskets, fully lined, of course.

Dan Taylor: Bicycle Commuter

The Bicycle Commuter series illustrates the diversity of riders for our area. This gentleman was the first to respond to my request for profiles, but I dragged my feet waiting for a photo, and maybe it was worth it. So mysterious. The first profile in this segment can be read here and second one here. If you are a local commuter, I would really love to hear from you.

Dan Taylor

AS6: Who are you & where do you commute?
I’m Dan Taylor and I commute to and from Marshall from 1810 Woodmont Rd. and also ride all over town to complete errands.

How long have you been a bicycling commuter?
I have been a bike commuter for about 4 years. I ride more in the Spring/Summer and Fall, but still some in the winter, too. Usually 3-5 days per week.

What is your motivation to ride?
It is fun, healthy and environmentally good.

What bike do you ride?
An old Schwinn Continental road bike. I also have mountain bike I use for trails.

Thinking back to when you started commuting, what were your reasons?
I hate driving and public transit is not very good here, I want to stay fit and do my part to create more community and keep the air clean in Huntington. I like that it is flat and compact here and everything is on a grid. The roads are terrible, though, and there are no bike lanes* (cars can be aggressive and not used to bikes). Critical Mass is a good incentive, though.

How have things changed in Huntington since you began riding your bike here?
More people are biking now, which is great, a legit bike culture exists. Now we just need more infrastructure such as bike lanes, bike racks, etc.

What are your current challenges and what suggestions do you have to eliminate them?
More places to lock my bike when I arrive somewhere!

How has riding your bicycle for transport, changed your perspective?
You see more of the city and hence become more connected to it then you would in a car. This is a perspective that more people need.

What suggestions do you have to those who have never ridden their bike for commuting?
It is not as hard as you think to ride here, so go for it! And please ride in the streets, it gets the cars more used to us and most are fine about it. You can always quickly wash up when you get to work and most clothes are fine for riding.

What can you do as a rider to make cycling safer for us all in Huntington? What could drivers do to keep everyone safe?
Be courteous, let cars pass but stay in the road and not on the sidewalk. Pay attention and be safe! Drivers also must be courteous and not not aggressive, you do not own the road!

What has been the best part of your commute?
All of it, the exercise, seeing more of the city, feeling awake when I arrive at work or school, etc. I always enjoy it.

 

Thank you Dan. I really appreciate your enthusiasm and commitments to cycling. Please accept my apology for the extremely long delay in posting your profile. Disgraceful really.

*Huntington now has a bike lane on a portion of 4th Avenue.

Filming for (R)Evolutions per Minute

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It may be nearly May, but the habit I created in February to move the dial on my camera to film mode hasn’t waned. While I don’t go about only recording video, I do think about time-based media more than I did before I dedicated a month to capturing footage for the (R)PM project.

My mild campaign to increase the amount of video being recorded and submitted for the cargo bike documentary was decent for a first go in a cyber and bicycle world unto which I still consider myself the newbie.

Travis Wittwer, with oh so many social media connections (Bike, a Noun, a Verb, TransportLandStories from School, on YouTube, kids cargo art on Flickr, on Twitter) banded alongside my efforts. He created a #filmfebruary hash tag on twitter and increased his own efforts to capture video for Liz Canning.

When I checked in with Liz to see if any of this was helping, she said:

Yes, a few more submissions and more than that, attempted submissions and more talk about submitting. Ethan Jewett uploaded some Kidical Mass clips, Travis is currently attempting to do so, Dorea’s shooter says he will upload soon, Keri Caffrey will upload from Orlando FLA, Joe Bike says he’s shooting 2 interviews.

Beyond just thinking about recording our life in motion, I have been inspired to help with recording other’s bicycling adventures. Brent took his camera with him to NYC and was able to spend two hours interviewing with Hudson Urban Bicycles‘ owner George Bliss. He captured footage of his own test riding of various style cargo bike and of the very chic Adeline Adeline. He has been increasing the amount of film time here locally, evidenced by the Critical Mass and Kidical Mass productions I posted previously.

In addition to the in person filming we have managed, Brent set up cameras, screen capturing software and audio recording applications for a skype chat I had with Marie-Claire, one of the car-free, family cycling, cargo bike readers here (see the photo at the top). The idea was that not everyone has access to film and audio equipment, or the knowledge to pull it all together and send it to California. I also have a strong desire to meet so many of the people I share this family-bicycling community with. I want to travel the globe and get to know everyone’s stories a little bit more intimately. Given I am not the wondering gypsy I used to be, and technology has been built to bring people closer without leaving their sofas, Marie-Claire and I devoured three hours in conversation on Saturday.

The experience was certainly a lesson in how to improve things for the purposes of (R)PM on the next attempt. We had a good time getting to know each other better and I hope some of the three hour conversation is salvageable for Liz.

Readers, it’s not too late to get involved with this project. It’s actually the perfect time! Join the group on Facebook, submit video and photos, or contact Liz about finding someone in your area who is recording interviews and lives.

I would love to come see you as well. I always post in the FB group or on my FB blog page about when I (or Brent) will be travling. If we are coming to your area, we will bring our camera, hope we can meet up and put some words on film.

If only I could launch my own kickstarter or indiegogo campaign to pay for the fuel and lodging, we would travel all 50 states and set Brent’s videography skills loose in your neighborhood.

Hey, that’s not a half bad idea is it?

Breanna Shell: Bicycle Commuter

Running a series of interviews on this blog has always been more work for the person being featured. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to answer a length of questions. For our second installment of area bicycle commuters,  Breanna also provided a lot of photo documentation to illustrate her insight on traveling here in town. The first profile in this segement can be read here.

Breanna Shell

Regular Brea vs. Bundled Winter Biker Brea

AS6: Who are you & where do you commute?

Breanna Shell, Ohio native, Midwest proud, West Virginian new addition. I live in the Southside neighborhood with my husband, Walker Coon Hound, and two amazing roommates.

I bike commute to:

AS6: How long have you been a bicycling commuter?
I have been an off and on bike rider and commuter since I was in college at the bike friendly campus of Denison University in Granville, OH. After a couple versions of used and borrowed bikes in college as a graduation present I received my current road bike, a 2006 black and grey Raleigh Cadent 2.0. This bike has seen an ebb and flow of commuting and joy riding. Now living in the Southside neighborhood and working downtown I try to ride to work every day (unless driving out of town for work errands).

My beautiful ride. Showcasing my snazzy pannier bag that yes, turns into a backpack AND has a built in cover for the rain.

For a while my husband and I had one car between us, so regardless of weather I had to take the bike. Although we are a 2 car household now, I try to keep that same mentality of whatever the weather; I ride my bike to work. This mild winter has been pretty easy to stick to it and I have only slipped when I was feeling sick or the snow/rain was really intense.

AS6: What is your motivation to ride?
Although motivation to take the bike can be low when I am rushing around trying to leave the house, I quickly remember as soon as I get on the road. I love to be able to use my body to get around, be in touch with the weather of the day, and to get to my destination and have people ask questions about the ride. But truthfully, a big motivator to keep with it is not using the alternative, the car. No car windows to scrap clean, no gas costs, no worrying if there is gas in the car or major car repairs I am avoiding, no need to search or pay for parking. With all that bother that comes with the car, I feel faster and less stressed to get there by bike.

AS6: Thinking back to when you started commuting, what were your reasons? Challenges,solutions? Pains and joys?
When I first got my bike I was living in Seattle, WA where there is an active bike culture in spite of the giant hills. When I finally chose my bike I hesitated to start riding knowing my fear of hills going up and down. Eventually, and with some peer pressure, I ignored my pride and convinced myself that I can ride my brakes if needed and there is no shame in getting off your bike to walk up that big hill or take a break. Once I started riding more, I was also remarkably pleased with the ability of a low gear and slow going to make what seems like an impassable hill become totally passable.

Another tool that helped me when I was getting started was Seattles’ bike map. Not only do these maps mark the best roads or trails to ride on, but they symbolize hill incline and decline by marking steepness of hills with arrows. The closer together the arrows the steeper the hills, the more likely I avoided certain routes for a longer trip with less steep hills.

A formative experience for me when I started commuting in Seattle was the weather battle. Seattle is known for several beautiful natural landmarks, but most people first remark, “How do you deal with all that rain??!!” As much as I like to battle that stereotype, that is another conversation, and yes, as a bike commuter you must deal with rainy rides. But it was in Seattle that I learned a good rainy ride is just as enjoyable as a sunny day commute, with the right gear. Fenders, rain pants, rain coat, and a waterproof bag can get you there with no worries about the weather. These early bike commuting experiences help me to keep things in perspective, that there is more out there to riding when it is a sunny day and a flat route.

AS6: How have things changed in Huntington since you began riding your bike here?
I have definitely seen more momentum for bike advocacy, changes in bike shops, and more riders on the road. I love the energy and excitement surrounding the PATH trail project and the subsequent spin-off bike and commuting momentum.

AS6: What are your current challenges and what suggestions do you have to eliminate them?
Challenges and what I am doing to overcome them:

  • Keeping up with bike maintenance (knowing what to do and how to do it, things like truing my tires).I have been trying to read up more about bike care, but mostly I learn from trying bike maintenance out on my bike. I love that my bike is a simple enough machine that I can see how it functions and troubleshoot problems. Would be interested in learning more in a hands on workshop environment.

    The puddle on my ride to work that is there when there is a drop of rain or a downpour.
  • Road conditions (especially narrow roads where conditions are bad on the far right that encourage puddles). In response to this, I choose my routes carefully for those that have the best road conditions or have slower traffic that I can ride farther out in the middle of the lane to navigate bad road conditions on the right.
  • Needing to go places that I feel are too far to ride to, or I have to carry too much stuff when I go there. This is more of a mental preparation problem. I can carry and go farther than I think, but I need to prepare myself physically and mentally.
  • Knowing how much gear to wear (feeling too warm once I get going, or too cold because the wind is colder than I thought). In response to this, I have learned that I generally need to carry more layers than less, as long as I have way to carry things if it gets warmer as the day goes on.
  • Finding places to lock up my bike! In this I get to be creative. I ask to bring my bike in, find poles or parking meters. I carry a u-lock so sometimes that limits my options, but if nothing is around to lock up outside, most people are happy to let me bring in the bike and talk about the ride.
Can you find the bike? My co-workers are nice enough to let me slide my bike in the back with the chair storage, because of the lack of covered bike parking downtown.

AS6: How has riding your bicycle for transport, changed your perspective?
Riding my bike gives me a different perspective of the city, I feel more in tune to the types of businesses and houses I am riding by. In general it just feels good to be moving around to get to the places I need to go.

AS6: What suggestions do you have to those who have never ridden their bike for commuting?
Here are my thoughts on some common concerns with commuting and things I have learned along the way.

Work attire: My ride is short enough for the most part I don’t have to worry about being sweaty at arrival, but I do miss that I usually can’t wear a skirt unless I drive or bring a change of clothes (which takes advance planning). I do wear heals and boots and work pants on my ride, it is fine for a short ride and makes it easier on me once I get to work. Wear leg warmers or roll up my pants leg to keep from the unfortunate gear ripping through the outfit situation.

The Coffee cup:Coffee is a very important start to my work day and I rarely can get up and get a cup before I have to rush off to work, so it is very important to me to have a coffee cup

The mug stands alone. The commuters best friend, a handy-no leak coffee mug.

that does not leak. A true ZERO-leaking coffee cup in my experience is hard to find. The one I use I got at a coffee shop in Seattle called Bulldog News, but I have seen them around in other places. This is a necessity to good commuting, there is nothing worse (in my opinion) than having to stop a perfectly good ride because you notice a dark puddle forming in your bag from your spilled cup ‘o joe. Also makes visiting your favorite coffee shops around town a lot more travel and eco-friendly.

The time it takes: Once you get going I find it is not that much longer, if at all, than driving in a car! You can sneak by long lines of cars and park right out front your destination. That convenience is hard to beat. Plus, again, no gas costs = priceless.

Safety: Sharing the road with cars can be intimidating. I see a lot of people riding their bikes on the sidewalks. I can see how that may be a more comfortable place to ride, but can present other problems, such as pedestrians, sidewalk cracks, lack of curb cuts and continuous sidewalks. I am a strong advocate for riding on the road with cars.  Huntington is a great place for biking on the roads due to fairly flat and wide streets that were meant for car traffic that is not as heavy as it used to be. To aid in the safety for riders and drivers bike commuters should be confident of their right to ride on the road, but always be aware of yourself and the cars around you. And of course wear a helmet (I promise you look cool).

AS6: What can you do as a rider to make cycling safer for us all in Huntington? What could drivers do to keep everyone safe? What could the city do?
As a rider I try my best to talk to people about commuting and to downplay the difficulty or danger of riding in the streets of Huntington. The city could help with the usual, fix potholes and patch on high priority roads, light up the viaducts, and make more trails and marked bike lanes. Improve street lights on high traffic routes.

Another important aspect would be educating drivers about sharing space with bikes on the road. For example, cars should leave space and pass with caution, no need to go 5 miles per hour or speed by going 45, find that happy medium. I lean towards a non-pushy, simple share the road mentality, bikes are traffic too.

A bike map for Huntington could channel bikes to a safe route and let cars know bikes will be there. In addition, good signage of active share the road routes.

Of course, more riders! The more bikes on the road the safer it is!

AS6: What has been the best part of your commute?

I love taking note of all the great painted building signs on buildings downtown, this shot doesn’t do this one justice, but this sign is my one of my favorites.

A few things that come to mind are those days when the weather is clear and warm and I get to ride around outside instead of getting inside a stuffy car. As well as the everyday pleasure of seeing people out and about and learning about businesses I may not notice from driving around.

AS6: Anything you would like to ask the readers? And Readers, if you have answers/suggestions, please let Breanna and I know in the comments.
What would make it easier to bike or walk than to drive a car?

What would convince you to ride a bike for commuting (high cost of parking/driving, want for exercise, ease of travel, not having to take the viaducts, riding a trail vs. the road)?

Breanna’s route to work:

Favorite roads to ride on: 6th Ave., 9th Ave., and 4th Street
Favorite viaduct: 1st Street
Least favorite part of ride: crossing over railroad tracks, always extra bumpy.

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