Category Archives: Bicycles

Bikes in Mexico City

I made a trip down to Mexico City this past week, and wanted to highlight a bit of what I saw in terms of bicycling.  On Sundays, they close off a portion of the biggest avenue in the city, Reforma, and until 2pm open it to bikes, runners, rollerbladers, etc.

There are numerous bike share racks along the avenue.

And it appears they have racks set up in quite a few places around the big city.

Here’s a closer look at one of the Eco-Bici machines.

At one end of the avenue, they set up an ‘urban cycling school’ to help folks learn to ride.

I saw a fair number of painted bike lanes around town, but Mexico City riding looks daunting to me – lots of cars, lots of intersections without stop signs where the most aggressive drivers just shoot through.  But I did see some riders braving the open streets, including one guy riding against traffic in between lanes!!!

Anyway, looks like there are also some big organized rides.  This billboard was up in one of the Metro stations (cheap and frequent service), for a Halloween/Day of the Dead evening ride on Oct. 29.

Democracy in action

Photo by Jonathan Maus / bikeportland.org

Today I went down to Portland City Hall to participate in a rally in support of the passage of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 to build out a more comprehensive network of bike routes through the city.  The rally was followed by the City Council meeting to hear citizen testimony and vote on the plan.  It was the first time I had attended such a session, so kind of interesting.  Many of the initial speakers were clearly ‘insiders’ who had worked in various areas of city government and knew the players.  But there were plenty of neighborhood association representatives and others who mostly spoke in favor of the plan, with a few raising concerns and a few outright objecting to it.  Here’s more coverage from bikeportland.org.

Unfortunately because of the big turnout and the large number of speakers (probably 30+ got two minutes each), and followup questions from city commissioners, the vote was not held today and will be held next Thursday.  Democracy, not always pretty, but it’s hard to find better alternatives!

Update: A week later the City Council did approve the bike plan, and the next challenge is to find funding to ‘Build it!’

David Byrne's 'Bicycle Diaries'

A couple nights back I went to a book event for David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, which is a kind of travelogue of what he’s seen around the world on tour – he brings a bike along and gets a closer look at many cities where he plays.  The event at the Bagdad Theater in Portland featured four speakers, David starting, and then bike planner Mia Birk, bike culture pioneer Timo Forsberg, and bike activist/journalist Jonathan Maus (of bikeportland.org – where you can read about the event here).

David spoke with accompanying photos, of urban utopian dreams of Le Corbusier and others, and he recommended a few other books along the way.  I picked up one of them that I had considered previously, Michael Sorkin’s Twenty Minutes in Manhattan.  Sorkin’s a professor of architecture, and his book is a collection of musings triggered from his walk to work – the initial chapter orients around stairs!

Sunday Parkways in SE Portland!

I got up early this morning to volunteer for the Sunday Parkways event held today in the Southeast section of Portland.  I was at the helm at the T intersection above, where I got my little traffic circle set up, and things got a whole lot busier a bit later.  Above looks east toward Mt Tabor along Lincoln, with 41st off to the left.

Lots of folks came out as the sky cleared and the day got beautiful.  Below a small group performed in front of Sunnyside School.

Over at Col. Summers Park there were many vendors along with a band.

My favorite bike of the day – the fish bike!

See more coverage of the event over at BikePortland.org.

Bridge Pedal 2009

One day a year Portland lets the bicycles take over the bridges in town, including those that are part of the interstate system.  It’s called the Bridge Pedal, and thousands of riders of all ages get up early on a Sunday morning and hit the roads.  I did the 8-bridge option, which covered about 24 miles and took about 2.5 hours at a fairly leisurely but steady pace.

Highlights were the views from the Marquam bridge, the Fremont Bridge (above), and the St John’s bridge (below).  Check out bikeportland.org for more coverage of the event.

Sunday Parkways in NE Portland

Today was the second ‘Sunday Parkways’ event of the season, this time in the Northeast.  They closed off a bunch of streets to cars (excepting local inhabitants) and made a big loop of about 7 miles around the Alberta Arts district.  People can ride either direction.  It was a great sunny day for it!  Lots of people out to enjoy, including plenty of kids.

It’s nice to get the streets clear for a day… and the chalk artists were out in force.

There were bands set up along the way, and more organized activities at several of the parks along the ride.  And there were plenty of impromptu lemonade stands and the like, so I stopped in at one… it’s down in the left corner of this pic  (this shot’s for oakhill193!).

And I’d been meaning to get a shot of this big sign for awhile, so here it is on a bright sunny afternoon:

Ride in Oregon!

There’s a famous sign in Portland, on top of a building that’s right by the riverside, so everyone coming across the Burnside Bridge into downtown sees it.  It has a pretty long history, and right now it looks like this:

The building that it’s on is now owned by the University of Oregon, and they have been talking about changing the sign.  It’s had a long history, and has been changed before:  “Built in 1940 for the White Satin Sugar Company, it was changed in 1957 to read “White Stag” by White Stag Sportswear. The Naito family, owners of the Made in Oregon chain, again rebranded the sign in 1995.” (from this story in Willamette Week).

Riding by the sign one evening, I had my own idea about how they should change the sign…

I’m not the greatest photo manipulator, but you get the idea…

Update on July 14: I got in contact with BikePortland.org on this, and they’ve got a post about it.  Feelings run deep about the stag!

Update on July 19: Another item on the sign, this time in Willamette Week!  I also saw that local bicycle part manufacturer Ruckus Components has a similar graphic idea.

Vancouver report

I drove up to Vancouver, BC on Sunday, spurred mostly by the jazz festival.

I saw a concert each night:

Sunday – the Monterey Quartet (Dave Holland-bass, Chris Potter-sax, Gonzalo Rubalcaba-piano, Eric Harland-drums) with Vancouver-based October Trio & Brad Turner opening.

Monday – an eccentric German quintet led by Alexander Schiffenbach, playing “Monk’s Casino” – various arrangements of Monk tunes.

Tuesday – the Kenny Werner Quintet with Randy Brecker-trumpet, David Sanchez-sax, Chris Colley on bass and Antonio Sanchez on drums, with Fred Hirsch Trio opening.  Kenny Werner encored with a solo piano performance of a Joni Mitchell tune “I Had a King” (he said she was his favorite musician of any genre).

Wednesday – Chicago-based band The Sea and Cake (jazz=not so much, but a pretty solid show).

The picture above was from Tuesday, when I climbed the Grouse Grind, a trail that goes straight up the nearby ski mountain.  Good views of the city from up top, and I got to see a grizzly bear up there as well (in a fenced area!).

On Monday I visited the Vancouver Art Gallery, where they had a few interesting shows up: a large selection of Andreas Gursky photos, and in a twist most of them were printed at no more than about 14 inches wide, rather than the large-scale versions he usually shows; also photos from Los Angeles by Anthony Hernandez.

I also made it to a cool museum show about bicycling in Vancouver, called Velo City.  They had some nice profiles of various cyclists from the area, with graphics showing their main routes, ranging from BMX racers to daily commuters.  They also had a great video showing some bike trails built in North Vancouver on the slopes, with bare wood ramps flowing over the mounds and gullies, and a few spots taking the trail on top of fallen trees.  Not quite as much biking activity there as here, but I did see that they plan to take one car lane on Burrard Bridge for a bike lane very soon.  Also on bicycles, found a good free magazine based there called Momentum (The Magazine for Self Propelled People!).

Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, with events around the area (skiing up at Whistler/Blackcombe), and then July 1 was Canada Day, so lots of patriotic pride up north!

Pedalpalooza 2009!

Here’s the lovely poster for this year’s Pedalpalooza, which starts today!  Bicycling events daily all around Portland for the next two weeks!

You can find all the info here at:  http://www.shift2bikes.org/

LED bike lights from MonkeyLectric

Just found out about these from a twitter post – pretty amazing!  The company that makes this is MonkeyLectric based in Berkeley, CA.  Here’s a cool gallery of wheel images from a Portland rider.   Here’s a cool video that shows off some of the more sophisticated stuff they can do – check it out!