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« Kidical Mass Ride Report #1 »


Kidical Mass Seattle's first ride was a HOOT! Sunny and 70 degrees after a week of cold rain, bikes everywhere you looked for Bike to Work/School day, and a lovely turnout of 73 people on 59 bikes for the KM ride!

The Kidical Mass FlagshipWe swarmed Ballard Commons park by the skate park, endured some blather by me about the route and how to keep things safe, legal, and fun, and then we were off, at the speed of, well, a slow walking pace.

The thing about keeping things legal and not corking intersections is that a large group can take 3-4 light cycles to get across an intersection. So our procession on foot through the Cascade Bike to Work afterparty was not the swiftest, although it was enthusiatically narrated by our new best friend, the Cascade guy with the mike. Who was that man? M.J., kiss him for us.

We then rolled down Old Ballard Ave in style, blissfully traffic-free, ringing and dringing and dinging it up. We came up two by two at the dread 17th and Shilshole intersection (we had a stop sign, Shilshole motorists didn't), where we deployed our "crossing ambassadors", wielding some signs I whipped up with the image at the end of this post. They dismounted and walked across the road when a gap showed up, while we let small packets of riders stop and then cross. It worked well - we didn't let any traffic build up, but the presence of our 2 "pedestrians" was a safe, legal, and smiley way to make sure our ducklings made it across safely. How do I spell relief? R-O-L-ling 73 people through an intersection that's sketchy enough for one without any confrontation. 

A De-Lovely Day for a Family Bike RideThe railroad tracks under the bridge were chaperoned by Matt, who reminded folks to cross at a right angle, lest they have an unscheduled playdate with the tooth fairy. We massed up at Dutch Bike Seattle, and then took off down the Burke Gilman trail, past trains, the canal, a gaggle of geese, and the Fremont bridge, which rose right on cue. Whenever I looked back, a line of families on bikes as far as I could see glinted in the sun ... trailers of all sorts, front seats, rear seats, some family tandems, two MADSEN's, two bakfietsen, 3 infants, a whole mess of toddlers, and a posse of 4-7 year old kids on their own bikes, many of whom had never ridden 3 miles under their own power before. They arrived Gasworks glowing with pride and excitement.

Happy Bikey FamilyPart of that glow may have been due to the ice chests of popsicles and drinks that awaited (thanks Kim!!!). It was a backwards meal, with pizzas arriving 15 minutes later, which were rapidly consumed on a grassy knoll facing the lake and Seattle skyline. Bubbles, frisbees, and bikes were played with, kid cargo setups were scoped out, and a lovely bunch of people seemed really enthused about doing this again next month. I, for one, can't wait!!!


A group of Ballard families rode home at the sunset afterglow, past throngs of other bikey folks, one of which did "the wave" for us as we rode by them on the canal. As for the Critical Mass/Kidical Mass confusion, there was no corking, no honking, just a nice happy bell-ringing vibe.

A huge thanks from all of us to my wife Kim, who greeted us with babe in arms, balloons, and dinner! She put up with much obsessing and consternation from me this week. In fact, I was in quite a state on the day of the ride. A week's worth of trying to respond with positive energy to online crankypantses and bike-fear-mongers left me questioning a lot of what we were doing that day, both the details of where and when but also the general concept. But since the ride, it is clear to me that Kidical Mass is a GOOD THING. Several of the families who joined us were inspired to "go by bike" together this weekend, and the older kids are still talking proudly about how well they rode. If we have a dastardly plan, it is just this: help kids (and parents) feel not just safe, but fired up about riding places on their bikes!

Thanks as well to George, who helped me plan the ride and brought his formidable Ballard biking clan with him. We discovered that we're basically bike twins - two family biking obsessed dads with MADSEN's, 3 month olds that we somewhat guiltily trailer on occasion, and wives who tolerantly ride mountain bike conversions with ridiculously similar spec (Schwalbe's, dimension city bars, cork grips, waxed canvas, and much shellac - your basic practical bike chic geekery). Anne and Tim of carfreedays were tied up in a splendidly successful bike to school day but also helped get the word out, as did MJ from Cascade.

Much thanks to Rob, an experienced Cascade ride leader who's been fired up about Kidical Mass since last year, and who joined our ride as outrider and safety ambassador. Big big thanks as well to our lovely crossing ambassadors, outriders, Melissa with the popsicles, and our sweeper and mechanic, Kevin, who piloted the Madsen SAG wagon. I'll be whipping up some Kidical Mass/Totcycle swag shirts for you! 

I was too out of my gourd to take any photos, so the lovely ones here are courtesy of Petra. If anyone else out there has photos, please please email them or upload them to our Kidical Mass Seattle flickr group (and the original KM flickr group too - thanks Shane & co.!). And don't forget to sign up, follow our tweets, or stay tuned to our blog so that we can tell you about our next ride in JUNE!

Make Way for Ducklings (adapted from this lovely photo for our crossing signs)

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Reader Comments (8)

I'm glad to hear all went well, and that it was clear that people were not being beliggerent, just having fun: that's probably the best advert you can possibly make for Kidical Mass: Lots of happy kiddies and grownups. Now I've a clear idea what this is I'll probably suggest it to the local bike club/green part reps and see what happens...

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAndy in Germany

Was there a lost and found collected? My son Shane lost his glasses (blue izod) and he needs them for school!

The posting mentioned who the PA announcer was at the Ballard event. That was Peter Verbrugge a Cascade Bike Club staff member and the coordinator of bike to work month.

Great ride. Not only was that the farthest my 5 year old ever rode, but then we road back to Ballard so he doubled it. Thanks for pizza and pops.

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Bummer about the glasses! We didn't find any when we were packing up, but I'll include it an email today ...

May 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

I got all misty seeing all the kids and 'rents roll through! On Saturday, I reported back to my 4yo and showed him the photos. He is looking forward to the next ride.

Yup, that was Peter Verbrugge on the mic. Are all rides around Ballard? Alki's Summer Streets event has a much longer car-free (and prettier) option than Ballard did on Friday. Plus, there is the allure of digging in sand and watching bike stunts. Getting there might be require multi-modality from Ballard, however.

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterM.J.

GREAT RIDE! It was a lot of fun. Many kudos to the Totcycle Team (Julian, Kim, et al) for spearheading an incredibly fun and successful event. Our kiddos had a great time, and I think it was an impressive demonstration of what great optoins are out there for kids, families, etc. who are eager to do more via bicycle. Can't wait for the next one. Let me know how we can help.

May 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterghd

It was SO MUCH FUN that we couldn't stay off our bikes and as a family rode the next day to the Magnolia hill playground. Do consider for a future Kidical...especially when Monger pool opens up.

BTW: Today when preparing to cross the street on foot, Simone said, "Wait for critical mass before crossing."

Thank you Julian, Kim, Melissa and Kevin for making this happen!

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPetra

Lost Glasses update: My son Shane now remembers taking off his glasses sometime between the popcicles and the pizza while chasing bubbles. How is that for a 5 year old memory! Hope he keeps the memory of the great ride and gas works party on a sunny friday for even longer.
Anyone pick up some blue metal framed child's reading glasses?

May 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Thanks all - sorry about the delayed lost & found email - adding folks to the database!

As for the Alki Summer Streets thing, that is definitely on my radar. Not sure we can pull it off as a Kidical Mass thing, but I sure want to go.

The water taxi sounds like a neat way to get there, if not too crowded for bikes:

May 20, 2009 | Registered CommenterJulian / Totcycle

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