Saturday, June 26, 2010

charlie winston and audrey tautou ride old bicycles

I think "adorable" aptly sums up Charlie Winston and Audrey Tautou in this sweet song and story. One of my friends said: "I want to live in this music video."

Monday, June 21, 2010

kick back and relax

The solstice was this morning at 4:28am.

It's summer!

Time to lie down on the grass with a good book and let the world go by.

Me, I mean. The bike just needs a kickstand.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

dunsmuir bike lane

It's a wheel forward for Vancouver: a 2-way, on-street, separated bike lane running E-W across the city into the central business district. Dunsmuir Street is forever changed!

dunsmuir bike lane

Don't those cars look speedy? For some segments, the safety-enhancing divider between cars and bikes is a row of planters like this. I like how it serves a dual purpose by also integrating more greenery into the "concrete and glass" streetscape. These days, nobody is going to complain that adding plants is a waste. (Nobody that likes to breathe air, at least.)

dunsmuir bike lane

It looks like they're automatically collecting usage data. Hard evidence! Maybe, if things go well, we could get a counter?

sign on dunsmuir bike lane

There's new signage, of course...

dunsmuir bike lane

...and changes to the intersections. Some right-turns (across the bike lane) are now prohibited in a few places, which may take some time for regular drivers to get used to and cause extra confusion for infrequent drivers.

bike parking on dunsmuir bike lane

I'm unsure about my opinion on the decision to use racks as the divider on one stretch. At first thought, it doesn't seem like a good way to foster goodwill in drivers towards the bike lane. Jury's still out on this one.

dunsmuir bike lane

I accidentally caught this chic cyclist while photographing the one half-block without a physical barrier between cars and bikes.

Overall, it's been a frequent conversation topic these past few weeks. My coworkers had a variety of reactions:

"It looks very European."

"I felt so safe!"

One said that it made her ride to work quicker, another has tried riding to work again after having spent the last while commuting by skytrain, and a third, who doesn't currently own a bike, seems to be inspired by the enthusiasm of me and the others and is looking into picking up a used one so he can get back into riding again. (He's a motorcyclist, so gets "on few wheels" points for that, too.)

Our resident department curmudgeon was complaining about it but he complains about everything so in a way that just validates it as 'normal'. It's change. Change is inevitable and hard, even when it's positive. Life goes on and our city and culture develops.

Congratulations, Vancouver, on embracing this change.

team building

The company (and department within it) that I work for has it's head on straight: it really understands the value of building strong, cohesive teams. Once or twice a year each team heads out and spends an afternoon together doing activities that are unrelated to our jobs but bring us together in a focused but social atmosphere. One summer we all piled into a dragon boat together (teamwork required, for sure!), another year we went horseback riding, and this spring we went for a bike ride along the West Dyke Trail in Richmond.

The flatness and the water reminds me of Amsterdam, where I did do a typical visitors' bicycle tour when I visited a few years ago. (Dykes, windmill, cheese farm/clog factory-- you know the drill.) I'd love to go back and spend more time independently exploring the country by bike and seeing both rural and urban cycling from their perspective.

I was happy to find out that many of us had our own bikes to bring along (more than I would have thought), and only a few (including several of our colleagues visiting from other offices abroad) rented. Even those folks were happily at home on a bike; no one didn't know how. Although there are people who simply stop riding as adults, it's basically unheard of for anyone to not have learned as a child. That's something not to be forgotten when trying to encouraging more adults to take more trips by cycle... why did we enjoy riding as children/teenagers? Why did we stop? Why do some adults still enjoy it?

Tangent. Anyway...


To complete the afternoon, we flew kites. (Also requires teamwork.)

I've always said that riding on two wheels feels like flying.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

celebrate urban cycling

At mid-day today, the city hosted an Urban Bike Fair in the heart of downtown on Granville between Robson and Georgia. I wandered over with a few coworkers and we proceeded to drool over the variety of urban bicycles out on display.

A number of my favourite local bike shops were represented.

from the Denman Bike Shop

At the Denman Bike Shop's tent, I admired the proprieter's Electra Ticino and learned that it has stem shifters (modern bike!), that the saddle is one of the things that most people customize last yet ought to customize first, that you can wrap regular-sized handlebar grips with leather tape, and that they have a massive selection of baskets.

from Mighty Riders

Mighty Riders was out with a number of Opus bikes in tow. The Nuovella (a bike I was considering earlier) still has some loveliness to it, but that green, oh-- that green is just not me...

from Rain City Bikes

Rain City Bikes gave us a crash course on the benefits of a Pashley and I confirmed my first opinion on the Batavus BuB: it looks like a giant paperclip.

from JV Bikes

Among the foldies at JV Bike's tent was this triangular model (do they have a name?). Modestly hiding behind it is a stunning bicycle that I'd heard of but not seen in person yet: a Viva.

My colleague took a spin on the triangle. I imagine he's thinking either "Zoom!" or "Whoah, this thing steers weeeeird." Maybe both.

Dunsmuir Bike Lane Opening

Although an Urban Bike Fair seems to fit right into the city's cycling strategy anyway, the event actually being celebrated was the opening of the Dunsmuir Bike Lane a few blocks away. (More on that tomorrow...)

You hear that?

Bike, Vancouver!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

close your eyes and imagine...

A winding country lane, a canopy of trees making dappled sunlight, and you and all your best friends out for a bicycle ride on a sunny summer day.

Sounds dreamy enough for a song. Corinne Bailey Rae, can you make my wish come true?

best of both worlds

One of the reasons I choose to live in Vancouver is the proximity to the ocean. I grew up on Vancouver Island and spent childhood summers with my family on a boat (size: like a small motorhome on the water), cruising the Gulf Islands. In University I spent a summer living in Ottawa to see if I might consider living out there after finishing school, but found that the flatness and lack of ocean was a "con" for me.

Although cycling is a land-based activity (unless you count those odd water bikes-- personally I prefer the classic: a rowboat), I'm finding that in Vancouver it's very much tied up with the water, thanks to the seawall as both route and destination. To be riding a few metres from the sea as it sloshes up against the stone wall below ... this is having my cake and eating it too.

Once, my sister said to me: "If I lived here, I would walk on the seawall every day!"

I try to be thankful all the time that I'm able to live where I do, not take it for granted, and make the best use of it while I'm here.

Then again, that sentiment applies to far more than just living by the ocean... doesn't it?

the bixi anthem

An (amusing) song and music video about Montreal's Bixi public bike system:

the 'summer' evening

Riding to work is a convenience but a chore. Running errands by bicycle on the weekend is a practicality. The single best reason to have a bike stashed away in your garage/locker/bedroom? (Yeah ... that last is me. Small apartment.)

The Summer Evening.

(Okay, maybe not just summer, but "The Spring/Summer/Early Fall Evening" is a mouthful. Even high summer here won't be much different than a nice spring evening; there's just more of them in a row.)

Post-barbeque, warm breeze, evening light, and an old movie theatre too far away to walk but not far enough to warrant the car/bus.

We saw the french film Micmacs, by Jean Pierre Jeunet. He made Amelie, Delicatessen, and others. It was, as expected, vivid, quirky, and full of appreciation for the odd.

The theatre was appropriately quirky, too.

Friday, June 11, 2010

just hanging out

I wonder ... did it's (tall) owner hang it up there as some sort of extra security measure, or is the work of a (tall) prankster?

My money's on freak tidal wave.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

just bikes: danzante

There’s a stunning bicycle locked up regularly in a place I often pass by. It says “Danzante”. Possibly Italian, guessing from the number of Italian links that pop up when I search Google. Little bicycle-related, unfortunately; just wines and travel reviews.

The chain guard is artistically decorated (though whether that’s customization or stock, I can’t tell), the brake levers are the straight, non-formed kind (is there a technical name for them?), and the gear system is unusual (can be sort of seen in the second shot).

danzante (right side)

It’s not cables but a thin metal shaft that runs along the bottom tube. What does it do…turn? I’m not very up on my bicycle mechanics yet, let alone exotic (and stylish) tech.

danzante (left side)

What a beauty! I love that style of rack, matched to the bike as if (because) they were made for each other.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

old bicycle swap meet

After meeting up with Melanie and Jeffrey for breakfast on Sunday, we checked out the annual old bicycle swap meet. Melanie was looking for a new seat for her cruiser. I'm still waffling about whether I can justify (and store) more than one bike and craving a rickety ride that's old and rusted over with character.

There were many old bikes from... maybe ... the 30s (?) onward to the present. Some for buying and some for viewing. If you love relics outside of museums (like me), this event is a very cool look. This photo only shows a quarter of what was there: it extended down the street and inside of hall.

Two favourites: an old orange folder and old green trike.

Monday, June 7, 2010

knight rider

The other day I was walking by Nelson Park and saw...

--this on the road.

I thought it was chalk until realizing later that it had been raining and yet nothing was smudged. Today I went back and... it's still there. Painted on the street. When-- in the middle of the night? And what does it mean?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

pannekoek & photo experiments

This morning I met up with my friends Melanie and Jeffrey for breakfast at the Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe on Cambie. The tasty pannekoek fueled us for a stop at the old bicycle swamp meet (of which I'll post some photos tomorrow) and a bike ride together through the quiet, tree-lined streets of the neighbourhoods nearby.

We were unaninimous: riding with friends on a spring weekend is like being a kid again.

Melanie, looking chic as always:

Jeffrey, being a ham as usual:

Me, hiding behind my favourite new sunglasses:

Jeffrey's bike has this awesome "license" plate which he's had since he was a kid. I vaguely recall having one of these myself (I rode a red and white Strawberry Shortcake bike with a banana seat, back then) so I think they were popular-ish in the 80s. I wonder if you could find them anywhere now?

They graciously accommodated my request to be subjects of my experimenting with cycle photography.

Thanks guys!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

conquering burrard

I finally rode all the way from Pender to Davie on Burrard today. I'm not sure what it was about this particular road that intimidated me so much, as it does have a bike lane, after all. In summary: the hill is so gradual that it didn't make much of a difference; the traffic was passable, although I'm still a little wary of rush hour; the buses were weaving back and forth across the bike lane because the bus lane was periodically occupied by cars (whyever do they allow parking on such a major thoroughfare?) but I was just patient and hung out behind them. I'm not into weaving about between cars like some people do just to get to the front of the line. It reminds me that cycling, like everything in life, doesn't start out being easy. It may be a bit out of your comfort zone in the beginning, but each new experience broadens your range.

Oh, and in front of the theatre I caught up with girl on a bike wearing a dress and GREEN BOOTS. They were green. They were beautiful. Did I mention they were green? So very cycle chic.

un peu d'air sur terre

Here are some ads featuring stylish/non-sporty bicycles that I've clipped from magazines recently. What's being advertised here is irrelevant to me: I just love to see bikes featured this way.

un peu d'air sur terre

It's entirely appropriate that there's a bicycle in this ad because wearing Hue's colourful tights and leggings means you want to show them off and wear them with skirts, dresses, or shorts, which are extra-easy for bike riding (i.e. no pant-cuffing required). Rationally I know this is true, but being a "jeans on the weekend and my only skirts are pencil skirts" kind of girl I'm still struggling to embrace a wider range of fashion possibilities. I'm inspired by both all the "cycle chic" blogs around the web and by certain people I know in real-life; this blog is part of this journey.

Looks all pretty, but a chain guard would be a nice addition considering those pristine white, wide-legged trousers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

wheels and roots

The Roots store at Burrard and Robson has not 1, not 2, not 3 ... but 4 -- four! -- bicycles on its premises as part of the displays. They've been there for a while now but may have moved positions since I saw them last.

The fourth is hiding in the back behind the headless ladies. Pastel pink must make you shy. That's why I never wear it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

slow down and breathe

Yahoo! Canada Travel reports on WestJet's inflight magazine, up!, naming Vancouver as Canada's most walkable city for the second year in a row. Sounds plausible to me! Until last year, walking was my primary mode of transportation.

I do, however, question a statement made near the end of the article:
"You notice things you normally wouldn't see from the vantage point of a car or even a bicycle, since walking is an activity that forces you to slow down, breathe, look around and take things in."

From a car, absolutely. From a bicycle? That depends on how fast you're going, and I think the article's authors must be imagining far speedier cycling than I'm accustomed to. I took such a shine to cycling so quickly because it allowed me the perfect compromise between walking and driving/public transportation: slow enough to breathe, look around, and take things in, but fast enough to actually get somewhere useful in a decent amount of time. Walking, while still an integral part of my lifestyle and personal transportation strategy, is less practical and more leisurely.

Now, let's see if Vancouver can tackle the title of Canada's most cyclable city...

bike to work & to the garden centre week

This was Bike to Work Week in Vancouver.

Monday to Wednesday, it rained. It drizzled, poured, and spat in typical Vancouver style. It did so always in the morning, when I was making that crucial decision whether or not to ride to work, so 2 out of 3 nice afternoons did nothing to alleviate the problem.

Today ... not so. Ta da! Dry enough. Just in time, too, for the nearest Thursday bike-to-work-week commuter station to be the "cycle in style" one, where they said they encouraged suits and heels. I was late leaving work so rolled up almost at 6:30, when they would supposedly be closing. Regretably, I didn't see any suits or heels other than me, but I did see a beautiful dutch bike from Rain City Bikes. (Didn't manage to identify its owner, though.) Chatted with a nice gentleman who's helping organize Velopalooza starting tomorrow and complimented me on how my helmet coordinated with my outfit. (It's purple ... which matches everything in my wardrobe. Not kidding.) I also got some info about local cycling resources and was given a free banana, perfectly ripe. Free perfectly ripe bananas ... now that's fantastic!

Voila, my cycling "shoes":

I rode up Granville (closed to traffic right now so a cycling paradise!), navigated a traffic jam, and then tried out a bit more of the bike land on Burrard (which still intimidates me). Destination was the garden centre to pick up some herbs. Thank goodness for bike baskets to carry them home in, no? I think, however, that I'm going to put a larger basket on the back because I seem to be turning into a cycling trucker. I'm both the "be prepared" type and hate lugging junk on the bus, so extra space won't go to waste. Maybe a rack on the front, too, and probably a kickstand. Practicality rules!