Totcycle | Family Biking

Tots on bikes, kids as cargo, family cycling, and other high-occupancy velo goodness.

Not caring how much our bikes weigh since 2008.

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Kidical Mass to Wallingford Greenway Partay!

Seattle's first of the new Neighborhood Greenways (the low-stress, traffic-calmed, people-friendly streets formerly known as Bicycle Boulevards) is opening this weekend, with a big neighborhood car free Wallingford Greenway Party, ribbon cutting, bicycle blender, and the Return of the Gelato Bike!

Madi of FamilyRide is leading this Kidical Mass from Green Lake to the Greenway Party this Saturday, June 16th. Depart NE Green Lake, on the grass around the playground at the Green Lake Community Center, and we'll follow this route.

Meet at 4pm, ride at 4:15pm, arrive for Ribbon Cutting, Kid Parade, road chalk, hot dogs, bike blenders, and GELATO from D'Ambrosio Gelato in Ballard and Cap Hill! Marco and Enzo, the family gelato team, make the bestest, most authenticest, and most generousest gelato in town.

Come one come all! These Greenways are the future of low-stress family biking in Seattle, so this is a big deal. And our family loves a street party ...

And join us afterwards for an all night bike scavenger hunt, the 9 to 5. CarFreeDays has the scoop ...

Gelato Bike in Action


Kidical Mass to Pedalers' Fair

Just back in town after a Brompton-NYC-work-trip (another in a long list of posts I should write), and barely in time for Pedalers' Fair this weekend, in our very own Ballard! Bike crafts! Slide show by Russ and Laura of Path Less Pedaled! Food! Beer garden! Fellow family bike peeple! What more do you need?

And so we ride, this Saturday! And in May, of course, we wouldn't miss Bike to Work & School Day on May 18th. Which leaves June and July wide open for suggestions, but I guarandamnteeit that one Kidical Mass ride this summer will be bike camping! Ride to Bainbridge Ferry, then to Fay Bainbridge for an overnight, possibly in conjunction with Bike for Pie on August 19th. 

As what few readers remain may have noticed, I do need help planning and organizing these rides, especially south of the ship canal, so contact me if you have a ride idea you'd like to own and lead. I'd like to get a regular third-weekend-of-the-month rotation going, but have conclusively demonstrated that I can't do it by my lonesome.

We'll keep this one simple, and classic. Gas Works Park by the play barn/play area. 11am this Saturday 4/21/12. Leave at 11:15ish, ride the Burke Gilman to 1415 NW 49th St for the bike crafts fair. Russ and Laura start at 2pm, if you're able to stick around. Food is promised, but I don't know how kid-friendly. BYO backup food, or know that there's lots nearby, including el camion truck 3 blocks away. Yes.


Novembrrr Kidical Mass: Ship Canal Trail

We're back! That's right, after missing most of a glorious summer, our little family bike ride that could is back on track, just in time for ... snow? So says the forecast. Bah! Either way, this route is short, temperate, and will be capped by delicious warm and cold beverages for one and all.

Why this Saturday, November 19th? Because the Ship Canal Trail is done, and there's an opening ceremony, and we plan to be among the first to ride this spiffy gem on the other side of the canal from the Burke Gilman Trail. 

This is another "missing link" trail, that now connects Burke-Gilman, Dexter, and Westlake with Magnolia and the Elliott Bay Trail to downtown. The Ship Canal Trail has previously been a scenic and secret trail to nowhere, but now has real utility. 

We checked it out this summer when the yellow segment finished, and were delighted by a real live maritime firefighter training session on a mock ship, complete with MASSIVE PYRO! 

PYRO on the Ship Canal Trail

No promises on Saturday. But it sure would be a toasty way to welcome folks to the trail. Hint hint pyro people.

Let's meet at the Ballard Library at 10am, ride through the Locks, and through Fisherman's Terminal to the 11am opening ceremony. There will be a short stretch of on-road action between the Locks and Terminal. We can do it.

Then we'll ride this scenic (in an industrial then canal sort of way) trail, and pop over the Fremont Bridge for a lunch at Fremont Brewing. We'll bring hot cider to warm folks up. Fremont Brewing is BYO food, and quite kid friendly. You can pack a picnic, but there is adjacent teriyaki, and nearby sweet and savory PIE

Then anyone who likes can ride back to Ballard with us on the Burke Gilman Trail. This ride will be a great chance to show off your "how I keep the kids warm/dry" tricks for winter! We've got a MEC Newt Suit a la FamilyRide clan that we're liking for the wet. And contemplating hot-water bottle with waterproof-on-one-side picnic blanket for the cold.

If you don't have kids with you that day, or live in a Capitol Hill/South Seattle direction, may I suggest an alternate event? Because Cranksgiving 2011 bike ride/food drive happens to be on the same day (sorry Tom!). We really enjoyed it last year, but my kids were more totsicle than totcycle by the end of it, so I don't think we'll make it such a big loop with snow in the forecast. But you should.


First Day of Preschool

Uff ... I just dropped off little Luc at his first day of preschool.

How did we ever get from this:

Shhh ...

and this:

6am Aster Coffee with Luc

and this:

Luc plus Giraffe

... to a brave little 2 and a half year old who likes pirates, swords, superheroes, swimming underwater, bikes and buses?

Thus the extra-special multimodal commute for his first day to his new preschool near my work. Normally I'll ride Drew and Luc on the eMADSEN, and drop Drew off first, but today Luc and his daddy took the Brompton, ITchair, and the bus.

If I were slightly less neglectful of blogging this year, you would have heard a lot more about the eMADSEN and the Brompton with front seat. Suffice it to say (for now!) that the Brompton with ITchair front seat is the coolest way on the planet for a parent and a 3-5yo to "jetpack for two" around town. 

So here's to Luc, loving his new commute:

Folding bike for two, ORCA card in hand!

Missing momma, just a bit ...

Cascade red snap anklet = sword and handcuffs in a pinch

He blew me a kiss and ran back to the blocks ...

Wishing you and your little big ones a lovely (and wistful) first day of school ...


Greenways Ride to Field Day

Greenways in Wiki Stix

Work on Ballard Neighborhood Greenways routing and promotion has been fun (wikistix!), and we're excited to show folks what routes look good to us, and get your opinion. Join us tomorrow July 31, 2011, as Ballard Greenways and friends ride the routes, and wind up at a good, old-fashioned Field Day event.

I'm out of town, but Jen will be leading the ride, and was happy to include the Kidical Mass crew. On this 4 mile on-street ride, if your kids don't yet ride in a reasonably straight line or stop reliably, then they’re probably safer on a trailer, trail-a-bike, cargo bike, etc ...

Come join Ballard Greenways as we ride our favorite routes in Ballard! This is a family-friendly easy-going ride that will start and finish at the Ballard  Library, just in time for the Summer Field Day at Ballard Commons Park. We like quiet streets, with easy crossings as great routes for people of all ages to get around the neighborhood.

We’ll meet at the Ballard Library at 2:30 and leave at 3:00. We’ll ride some of our proposed Greenway routes and be back at the library by 4:00, just in time for the Summer Field Day.


Bikes Make Life Better

Here are some celebrational bike videos that made me happy this year, starting with the brand new "Bikes Make Life Better" from

And don't miss our new, homegrown promotional, "Will You Ride with Sophie?", from Cascade:

And if you haven't seen it yet, don't miss "Me and My Bike" from earlier this year:

These videos are how promoting bikes should work. All joy, easy on the enviroguilt, save the safety lecture for another day. Speaking of which, "The Joy of Cycling" poster is not to be missed, for those of us who grew up with a certain book on their parents' bookshelves. 


Neighborhood Greenways in Ballard!

Here's a taste of Neighborhood Greenways, Portlandia style (via Streetfilms)

Update: Read on for background and proposed routes, but the latest Ballard Greenways information is to be found on the Ballard Greenways Facebook Page

Calling all Ballard bike people! Neighborhood Greenways (the streets formerly known as Bicycle Boulevards) are coming to Seattle. Soon. And in a big way.

Thus far, Seattle bike improvements have tended to favor commuters, and "fast and fearless" cyclists, with narrow bike lanes on busy arterials. While the associated road diets have lowered rates of speeding and accidents, being wedged between fast motor vehicles and the door zone is not exactly where you want to be with your kids. It's time to address the "willing but worried" who would ride if they felt safer, using designs that cater to cyclists of all ages and abilities, helping them get to neighborhood schools, parks, libraries, and shops, on pleasant, traffic-calmed "bike arterials."

Enter the Neighborhood Greenway. Take a quiet street, often parallel to a busy arterial, with already lowish motor-traffic volumes. Add calming devices that discourage cut-through speeding motorist traffic (speed bumps, speed tables, curb extensions, chicanes, etc), and favor through-traffic for bikes by turning some stop signs to favor the greenway, and at arterials, provide safe crossings for bike/peds but divert motorists onto the arterial. Bonus points for adding "green" features such as stormwater diversion "rain gardens" in conjunction with curb extensions, trees, and other greenery. Make the routes distinctive and let motorists know to expect bike/peds with large street markings, and wayfinding signs that help cyclists navigate our bike-friendly network.

Unlike some more controversial (yet still vital) infrastructure where traffic or parking lanes are removed, the Greenway approach is potentially less divisive. Residents can still drive home, but experience calmer streets and higher property values. Pedestrians are spared from speeding motorists, and have safer crossings. People on bikes both feel and are safer, due to the "safety in numbers" phenomenon, and are able to keep their momentum up with fewer stops on the route. And by attracting cyclists to these "bike arterials", there are fewer cyclists on the other arterials, which benefits motorists. The only people who lose are the drivers that like to speed down your quiet neighborhood street. Oh well.

There's a lot of momentum towards this new school of bike facility in town. Sally Bagshaw, of the City Council, has caught the fever, and reports that others on the Council see neighborhood greenways as a win-win. Seattle Parks Foundation is on board, as are Cascade and the Mayor's Office. SDOT is relatively late to this concept (especially compared to Portland, Vancouver, Berkeley, and other bike-friendly cities with extensive greenways networks) but is coming around. What's nice about Seattle is that the push for these is coming from neighborhood groups like Beacon BIKES, Spokespeople (Wallingford), Seattle Children's, not to mention a host of interested Ballard bike/walk organizations. After all, we know best what streets are bike-friendly, and where everyday cyclists need to ride. A number of us have been meeting together to help our Greenways get off to a successful start.

For more info on Seattle Greenways, see these resources:

The first Seattle Greenways are likely to be in Wallingford on N 43/44th St, Laurelhurst on 39th Ave NE, and Beacon Hill on 17th/18th Ave S, due the efforts of neighborhood grassroots organizations. Let's get Ballard on the map for round two of Seattle Greenways, and push for a connected network of greenways rather than a single street. Ballard's flat-for-Seattle neighborhood grid is ideal for such a system, one that can get families to places they need to go in Ballard, and connect to established routes like the Burke Gilman trail, and the downtown route through the Locks and Elliott Bay Trail. 

Here is a very rough draft of what Ballard's network might look like (original Seattle map by Dylan Ahearne of Beacon BIKES). Detailed thoughts on routes follow. But we need your input! Please post suggestions in the comments, and I'll update the map as consensus evolves. SDOT truly wants to know what we think, and so does the City Council. 

Proposed Neighborhood Greenways in Ballard

View Ballard Greenways in a larger map, with other cycle routes

28th Ave NW

I really like 28th Ave NW, as it's already a popular N-S bikeway, with relatively gentle grade, that would route from the top of Sunset Hill, down past the Nordic Museum and park, in front of Adams Elementary plus the Ballard Community Center & Playfield, across Market (already has a traffic light), to the future Missing Link section of the Burke Gilman and downtown through the Locks. Some motorists like to speed down it, as it's relatively wide, so there could be some pushback, but calming this street would have real safety benefits for residents and Adams Elementary students.

NW 57th/58th Street

This vital E-W route links up Seaview Avenue at Ray's (and the Burke Gilman trail extension), past QFC, Ballard Commons Park, the Ballard Library, downtown Ballard, the Port Office, supermarkets on 15th, and so on. The arterial crossings are already signalized. It's 1-2 blocks away from many local Ballard businesses. Love it. Only issue I have is 57th is pretty narrow west of 24th Ave, which can be said of some of the other routes. That'll be something to carefully mull over, as the visibility and shareability of such streets is limited, and I don't think such streets would easily lose one parking lane. Some streets already have a "no parking" side in sections, which could help.

17th Ave NW

This N-S route would link up North Ballard, Salmon Bay School (and parks), the new Ballard Corners Park, Market Street businesses, Swedish Medical Center, lower Ballard Ave, and the Burke Gilman. It would need a crossing treatment at 17th and Shilshole, but that's been needed for years, and is in the interim plan for the Missing Link. The Leary crossing would also need a median refuge or signal. Market has a light. 65th crossing would need help as well. Interestingly, this is the only proposed Greenway on the Seattle Bike Master Plan, which is due for it's midway update next year. 

NW 67th Street

This E-W route would connect to the routes above, is wide in the West, and would provide a calmer alternative to busy/narrow 65th for Salmon Bay and Ballard High Schools. Crossing 24th and 15th would need some help. NW 70th St is a similar route to consider, as it seems roomier in East Ballard, has a light on 15th, includes the Honore/Delancey business strip and intersects with Salmon Bay Park. Maybe make it 67st-70th St route, jogging up 17th Ave?

11th-12th Ave NW

This route hooks the Burke Gilman Trail at Fred Meyer up to North Ballard, past Gilman Playground, and including Ballard High School.

NW 77th St

This is a nice E-W bikeway that routes from Sunset Hill Park, past Loyal Heights Elementary & Community Center, and provides one of the gentler routes up and over Phinney, connecting nicely to North Greenlake at the wading pool, on streets that already include some calming features like the chicanes near the lake. Intersects the Interurban bike trail as well. 

6th Ave NW

This N-S Greenway could link the BG Trail at Hale's, up past Pacific Crest School, West Woodland Elementary, to NE Ballard.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and suggestions, as this is just a rough start. As you design, remember that the most expensive part of Greenways are arterial crossings, so bonus for routes that already have safe ways across. What routes would you like to see created first?

As our proposed Greenways get tightened up, I propose we borrow the 7-person Conference Bike from Dutch Bike and ride the routes with interested parties and stakeholders. Who's in for a round-bike discussion on the streets of Ballard?


Sunny Days Family Biking Menu

Updated with May Kidical Mass Deets - Scroll Down

Sunny Seattle Summer is so close I can taste it. Sandy Paseo sandwiches at the "secret beach," D'Ambrosio Gelato, Solstice Pale Ale at Fremont Urban Beer Garden, pit stops for blackberries most places we ride. Delicious sunny summery times await!

To whet your appetite, may I present a menu of family biking options this summer:

Thursday April 28th - Family Biking Slideshow

Hemingway Tea and Sleeping KidsI'll be kicking off Miro Tea's Soapbox Series this Thursday at 7pm with a slideshow and talk on family cycling (see their flyer & Facebook event page). Naturally, I'll be covering the finer points of blocking traffic, not paying for roads, and how to ruin Ballard's industrial core in 3 easy steps. After the talk, we'll play "Red Light? Green Light!", practice smug expressions, help young fingers make the finger, and scoff at a few laws. 

Actually, I'm nervous that no one will show, and it'll be just me harshing people's mellow oolong vibe. Please come, drink a Hemingway, and join in on the discussion. Bonus points for bringing your family biking rig to show off afterwards.

Saturday April 30th - April Kidical Mass

And you thought there wasn't going to be an April Kidical Mass Seattle. Think again! I'm sneaking one under the wire. Ballard Commons Park at 10am to the new South Lake Union Park at 11am for a romp in the sun, ending at Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden at 12:30 or so. Yes, you read that last part right. They're quite welcoming of the kids. In fact, last time we were there a 3-year old birthday party was happening. Wow. We were just happy that the Yelp reviews weren't going to be complaining about our kids ruining the place, for once. And since it's My Birthday Eve, this Kidical Mass ends with take-out pizza and beer in the middle of the day. After the Spring we've had, you deserve it. 

All of May - Bike to Work/School Month

I know, I know, every month is bike to blank month, uphill and upwind both ways in biblical rains and hail. But only in May can you be a part of team One Less Minivan, led by Madi Carlson, who is slaying #30daysofbiking with two littles on her mamafiets. Check her Family Ride blog, join the team, and show those fair weather Cascade Cat 6 Commuters how we do it.

Saturday May 7th - Bike Works Kids' Bike Swap!

Love Bike Works, love the Swap. Don't miss it! I'm pretty sure Morgan will be bringing the Family Bike Expo as well.

Bike Works, Columbia City’s nonprofit bike shop and youth bicycle education organization, will hold its 15th annual Kids’ Bike Swap on Saturday, May 7th, 2011, from 10 am – 4 pm at Genesee Playfield (43rd Ave S and S Genesee St). This annual event is an opportunity for families to trade in a bike their child has outgrown for a larger bike – just in time for the summer riding season! The Kid’s Bike Swap helps to facilitate the flow of affordable bicycles within the community and keeps fully functional bikes out of our local landfills. This year, Bike Works has overhauled over 145 kids’ bikes to kick-off the swap.

Friday May 20th - Bike to School/Work Day Afterparty

Where KM Seattle got its start. This time the weather will cooperate, and after whooping it up at the street party, we'll ride to the "secret beach" across from Paseo for Cuban sandwiches.

Let's keep it simple. The Afterparty in Ballard starts at 4pm. Let's get to it on our own, but ideally by 5, as we'll meet up at the belltower at 5:30 PM for a gentle, easy, flat ride to Paseo for takeout (bring CASH, and parents of young kids might want to BYO some back-up blander food) and beach party across the street.

Saturday May 21st - People Powered Park Parade

Kidical Mass takes it to the streets in Beacon Hill with Beacon BIKES. Check their flyer, and don't miss this opportunity to show support for what will likely be one of Seattle's first neighborhood greenways (the facilities formerly known as bike boulevards):

Beacon BIKES is celebrating the completion of our Family Friendly Bike and Pedestrian Circulation Plan (authored by Alta Planning and Design). Once implemented, these Neighborhood Greenways will allow people of all ages and comfort levels to safely bike and walk between destinations on N. Beacon Hill. We will highlight one of the proposed neighborhood greenways via a fun People Powered Park Parade which will begin at Jefferson Park and end at the Lewis Park. Bicycle decoration prizes will be awarded during the Lewis Park Celebration.

Friends of Lewis Park are celebrating four years of a Green Seattle Partnership restoration that has transformed this ugly, crime-ridden park to a beautiful Natural Area for our community to enjoy.  We have also been selected as an Opportunity Fund project.  Our Celebration includes tours of Lewis Park Natural Area, free BBQ, entertainment and just plain fun.

I'm planning to ride downtown to the Westlake Light Rail station, via the new Dexter, and take the light rail to Beacon Hill. Anyone who'd like to ride down from Ballard at 9ish, or meet at Fremont Bridge, get in touch or leave a comment. Families from point South or West can just meet us at the Parade! For those that (legitimately, of course) are sad to miss our north-of-the-canal biased rides, "stop freakin', meet us at Beacon!"

And that's just a taste of what's in store for summer. The Summer 2011 Fiets of Parenthood Games will be happening sometime in July/August, and goldangit we're finally going to make it to Vashon by bike for some family bike camping at the AYH Ranch Hostel with the teepees and covered wagons. If you'd like to join us, let me know. Finally, the Gelato Bike will ride again! Please suggest other event ideas and Kidical Mass ride concepts in the comments below.

Pre-Race Face


The Rides of March

The Seattle Bicycle Expo is back, and so is Kidical Mass Seattle!

We ride this Saturday March 12, from Ballard Commons Park, through the Locks, to the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal. Meet at 10:15am, leave by 10:30, arrive by 11:15ish. Not only is it the largest consumer bike show in the country, but the performances that day look great. Elementary school juggling unicyclists, world champion artistic bike team (these guys were great last year), trials riding demo, Bike Snob, and a bicycle fashion show (including the totcycle crew; the organizers must not have seen this post).

For a ride of a different nature, you can ride to the Expo again on Sunday with Mister Bike Snob NYC, leaving at 10:30am from Uptown Espresso at Queen Anne & Mercer. Wear your spiffiest Tyvek.

Also at the Expo will be a first-ever family biking booth (WOOT!), courtesy of Morgan Scherer (morganverbena at the gmail to the dot com). She still needs volunteers to help staff the booth, and would appreciate a weekend loan of your favorite family bike rig:

Family bikes are going to be in the Bike Expo this year!  We have a 40'x10' booth for displaying different setups, as well as ok to leave some bikes in the test ride area (though we won't be able to bring bikes from the booth to the test ride area, alas).  I'm very excited, as this will be the *first* year there has been any family biking focus at the Bike Expo! 

Wanna be involved?  I need both equipment and volunteers to staff the booth, talking to folks about the wonderful world of biking as a family.  So far, we have access to a Madsen sans motor, an electrified Big Dummy, an electrified tandem and pedal trailer, an Xtracycle (tho it's not in great shape), an electrified pedicab, a bike with trail-a-bike, and a bike with trailer.  The bikes will need to be at the booth on Sat at 8 or 8:30, and Sun at 9 or 9:30 (and can be left overnight).  Anytime you are willing to commit to staffing the booth and talking to folks would be a blessing--you get a free tshirt and admission both days, courtesy of Cascade Bike Club.  And my undying gratitude :)


Nutcase for Nerds

The Nutcase Helmet Design Contest ends soon! Get your designs in before Saturday, and you might win a $500 gift certificate to Clever Cycles

I've been working on some nerdier helmet designs ... although I remain partial to the Combover.

Planetary Gears

Images courtesy of NASA

Big Blue Marble

Moon Unit

Sunshiny Day

Life on Mars


Venus on the Shell

Milky Way

Brain Buckets

And some "Brainbow" helmets using images of multiply flourescent protein labeling in neurons, by Livet et al.


Brainbow II

Brainbow III

Fungus Amungus

The conceptual credit/blame for the following must go to Todd Fahrner, who is not eligible to win his own gift certificate.


Mario Mushroom

Conceptional Art

And the circle is complete: nerdy plus wrong =

Procreational Cycling