Ride your bike to work (and fix it too)!

How did you get to work today? If you’re like the vast majority of Seattle residents, chances are good that you drove your car or took the bus. On your commute, you probably saw at least a few people riding bicycles: according to the most recent US Census data, 3.6 percent of Seattlites use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation to work. That may not sound like much, but Seattle is now second only to Portland in the number of bicycle commuters nationwide. In the past year, the number of people biking to work in Seattle increased by 22 percent.

Image of the Flying Cyclist, courtesy of AbbyWant to join the ever-expanding ranks of Seattle’s urban cyclists? The Seattle Public Library is here to help. As part of the fall Urban Self-Reliance program series, the Library is offering “Introduction to Bike Commuting” classes at five branches around the city. A certified Cascade Bicycle Club instructor will cover many topics of interest to budding cycle commuters including rules of the road, route planning, cycling gear and much more!

If you’re already riding around town but feel helpless when you get a flat tire, check out the Bicycle Maintenance classes in the same series. Friendly, knowledgeable instructors from the Bikery will teach you how to fix a flat, lubricate your drive chain, adjust your brakes and more. All classes are free and do not require advance registration.

If you can’t make it to these classes, or want to learn more about bicycle commuting and maintenance, the Library has many great books on these subjects in our collections. Here’s a short list to get you started:

On bicycle commuting and urban cycling:

On bicycle maintenance and repair:

Check ’em out, and start riding (and fixing) your bicycle today!

Books that are One with the Bike

I’ve been reading some interesting books about bikes and bike riding, racing and commuting. Here are a few books that have an interesting angle or two. Sometimes the angle is from the ground looking up.

This is Parkin’s follow up to his very popular A Dog in a Hat. This time he returns to the states and learns to ride a wide tired bike over snowmobile tracks. When he finally gets his chance to race in America he finds this snow training has been all wrong for the quick and tumble races that lay before him in the American South.

“I’ve been riding a bicycle as my principal means of transportation in New York since the early 1980’s.” So says the author and musician in this book where he recounts his bicycling travels in Berlin, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Manila, Sydney, London and U.S. cities big and small from New York to Sweetwater Texas. Continue reading “Books that are One with the Bike”

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Blank US Bicycle Route Shield. Design based on the specifications in the 2004 edition of Standard Highway Signs. Public Domain image.

When I was in college, I lived off-campus with a small army of roommates. I had a great time, and I don’t have any major complaints about my roomies. However, young people often become obsessive with music and play the same albums and songs over and over and over again. For example, I had one roommate (we’ll call him Tim because that was his name) who constantly played Kansas. It seemed like torture to be forced to listen to “Dust in the Wind” all day long only to be woken after a full evening of entertaining by the shrill Kansan vocals again in the morning. I had another roommate, Pat, (his real name) who played Queen albums 24/7. I moved. That’s how I handled that situation. Although years later I would suggest that the Geneva Conventions be updated to include a mention of the damage that can be done by repeated listenings to Kansas, I have come around to Queen.

Today is Ride Your Bike to Work Day and in honor of this occasion I would suggest two things: Continue reading “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”

Bicycle Obsessions

As a bicycle commuter along the Burke-Gilman trail here in Seattle, I am not that upset when it rains. Hail, ice and snow, of course, are another matter. Rain seems to thin out the casual walkers and riders. And so beginning this Bike to Work Month with several days of rain has not been that unpleasant, given that I have not been struck by lightning or a vehicle of any kind up to this point.  This morning I was heading south over the Fremont Bridge when the lights went on and the spans went up. The rain had stopped by that time and I took advantage of my wait to take off some of my gear. As I put my rain pants in my bag and hooked it onto my back, I glanced to the canal and saw a small tug pushing another large tug slowly towards the sound. When I looked back right before we took off, there was a long line of walkers and bikers in a great variety of outdoor attire.  It was reassuring to be part of that silent community of Continue reading “Bicycle Obsessions”

Tour de Amsterdam: Biking as a Tourist

image-of-bicyle-in-amsterdam-courtesy-of-j-salmoralBiking in Amsterdam is an experience that can be enjoyed by even novice cyclists. On almost all streets and roads, cyclists enjoy an exclusive wide path separated from motor vehicle traffic by a strip of ground, a ditch or high curb. Riders have the right of way over pedestrians (a practice that takes time getting used to), and even have the prerogative to run red lights! It’s remarkable to be part of a populated community where a bicycle, as a mode of transportation, is only second to the popular and efficient train system that most of Europe enjoys.

As a flight attendant, I get to visit Amsterdam several times a year. While walking proves to be the best way of becoming familiar with a city, once you’re comfortable with the layout, renting a bike allows you to be more adventuresome within and outside the city limits. There are numerous bike rental shops in the city, just outside Central Station (the main train station) and even in smaller outlying towns. Bikes can be rented for a few hours or weekly.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned (some the hard way):   Continue reading “Tour de Amsterdam: Biking as a Tourist”