Saturday, September 29, 2012

An early basket cam

The grandmother of helmet cams.

Helmet cam dead

My helmet cam died. I bought it in May and it died. Fortunately, the manufacturer has offices in Seattle so I was able to swap the dead for the undead. The manufacturer, Contour, has a decent web site, though no sign of a phone number anywhere. I had to do all the correspondence via email. I recognize it's a new era in communications, but as far as I'm concerned, good customer service means a phone number and a live human at the other end.

I felt a little naked without the camera while I pedaled to and from work the past few days. I witnessed some stupid moves by automobile drivers and bicyclists, and was aware that I wasn't capturing it on video.

Last weekend, two friends and I pedaled the Chief Sealth Trail, a short and hilly trail though south Seattle, mostly along the path of power lines. When Link light rail was being constructed, the contractor moved the removed soils to this power line area to build the trail. 

No helmet cam; had to take a still shot. Brutal!

Carol Milne and Joline El-Hai are excellent bicycling companions. We move at about the same speed. This photo was taken in the middle of the P-Patch just north of the Rainier Beach Station.

We're now talking about doing a longer, multi-day bike ride next spring, someplace out of the area.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's dark out...

I leave the house around 5:30 in the morning. My husband walks me out, and watches my early morning ablutions:

  1. Pull my cell phone out
  2. Turn on CycleTracks and begin a trip
  3. Put my cell phone in my pocket
  4. Attach the camera to the top of the helmet and turn it on
  5. Turn on the back light
  6. Turn on the BikeGlow
  7. Turn on the head light
  8. Put on gloves
  9. Kiss the spouse
  10. Take off

It's now dark out for most of my ride in, which isn't a bad thing. I like riding through city streets while most other people are still snug in their beds. They're snug in their beds, so they're not out driving and keeping me on hyper-vigilance.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Familial reminders in downtown Seattle

There are lots of places in downtown Seattle that remind me of my family, as I pedal around. My grandfather, an architect, worked on a number of buildings downtown prior to his death during the Great Depression. My mother worked at the original Kress grocery store in the 1930s. My parents met at General Electric in downtown.

But one thing I think about almost every day is the story of my cousin Ernie Schlesinger and the Frye Hotel. When he was 14 in 1940, Ernie and his parents were able to leave Nazi Germany through the one route that remained open for Jews, across Europe, Russia, Asia and finally to Japan, from where they sailed to Seattle. 

Ernie's mother, Kate Munter Schlesinger, had contacted my great aunt, Hulda Munter in Spokane, Washington, and asked for assistance in getting out of the country. Hulda sponsored the Schlesingers, and so when they landed in Seattle, they were met by family.

Seattle Times - August 4, 1940

The Schlesingers spent their first night in the United States at the Frye Hotel. Every day on my bicycle ride into work, I remember this because I pass the Frye, right before I drop down into the International District.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The altar of "Don't hit the bicyclist!"

It's dark in the morning, on my ride in. Fall's quickly approaching. The evening ride home is still light and not too hot.

Tonight on the ride home, I saw two police officers on bikes...

I wonder what they thought of me, a chatty, overweight middle-aged bicyclist with head lights and tail lights flashing all over the place, as if all my lights are little candles burning at the altar of "Don't hit the bicyclist!"

Bicycling does make it easier to talk to strangers. It's kind of like a free pass to engage people I wouldn't normally if I'm in my car or walking. I feel quite comfortable, when I'm on my bike, telling a motorist about their brake lights being out, or talking to other bicyclists on the commute, or chatting up bus drivers when we're both stopped at a signal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Riding home last week

Last week I rode from the International District to the waterfront, along the waterfront through the Interbay area, across the Ballard Bridge and home.

There was a headwind, which slowed my slow self down even more.

I made the movie when I was tired, so please forgive the typos and bad timing on the text. Also, it was windy, so you may want to keep the volume down.

I love this route. It's wonderful to ride through Myrtle Edwards Park, so close to Elliott Bay. Right now the path is strewn with straw, leftover from Hempfest. The only traffic is other bicyclists. It's still light on the ride home (it's dark in the mornings, now).

It adds a few extra miles to my ride home when I take the waterfront route, but it's well worth it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cars rule, then pedestrians rule, then cars rule

Yesterday I had some interesting things happen on my bicycle ride into work, and on the way home.

On the way in, I had an uncomfortably close interaction with an oblivious driver and a nice conversation with a bus driver. On the way home, I came upon a man downtown who was passed out ans who everyone ignored. And the best part of the day was riding home through Greenwood's Summer Streets event.

I'm not anti-car by any means, but lately I've been thinking a lot about my street and how drivers behave on it. I live in Greenwood, and most of the nearby residential streets only have enough room for one car to drive. My street is wider, and as a result many people in cars drive way too fast. My neighbors are putting up signs and flags to try to get people to slow down. We have more children living on this block than at any other time in the 12 years I've lived here. I've been considering guerrilla action, like leaving a recycling container in the street. Or when I'm out watering the garden, hosing down cars, that go too fast.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Amazing Woman

I first met Madi Carlson and her sons in April 2012 when they came by Union Station in downtown Seattle to test out a new bus bike rack. She pulled up in a very long pink Surly bicycle with two children sitting in the back. There were two push bikes strapped on to her bike, too.

It was impressive to see the way these three get around town. 

I next saw Madi at this year's fundraiser for the Cascade Bicycle Club's education foundation. She and two other bicyclists were featured in a short film "Three stories from the road"; Madi's story starts at 01:26.

And then last week, I came across the three of them as I was approaching the Fremont Bridge on the way home. They were coming north on Westlake and I was barreling down Dexter.

Madi makes bicycling with two children look like a no-brainer. She inspires me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Ballard Bridge is not particularly bike-friendly

Some mornings if I have some extra time, I pedal into work across the Ballard Bridge and along the waterfront in downtown Seattle. It's a spectacularly beautiful ride through Myrtle Edwards Park. 

But to get there, I first have to get across the Ballard Bridge...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yesterday, I didn't see a friend

Yesterday on the bike ride home, a funny thing happened...

Post script, the next day:
I showed Jos the video, and she pointed out to me that I was seeing things. The woman who passed me had similarities to her, but wasn't her. Jos had pedaled on Westlake and that's why I ended up behind her on Fremont. She says "You were just behind her when you started to call my name – starting up Fremont – but if you thought that was me…. Look again.  She passed me as I slowed down when I hear you calling.  Go to 2:48 in video – notice I’m in blue & my bag has yellow stripe.  I knew I’d ridden on Westlake yesterday….but when you were so adamant that you’d passed me on Dexter I second guessed myself.  Good to know my memory isn’t that bad that I couldn’t remember the day before!"

Dammit. It was such a good story.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What happens next

I've reached out to a few women bicyclists I admire and asked them to spread the word about this blog. It's already happening. Here's a nice little video of a trail ride by LadyFleur500.

What got this blog going...

My husband sent this article to me yesterday, which I read with some interest. I bought a helmet camera a few months ago to document my commute to work and home. As a regular bicycle commuter, a day never goes by that someone doesn't do something in front of me to potentially cause me harm or to have an accident. I decided to buy a camera so I'd at least be able to document what occurs in front of me.

Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from M. J. Kelly, the Communications Director for the Cascade Bicycle Club. She'd heard through a colleague that I use a helmet cam, and King 5 news had contacted her for someone to interview, specifically in response to the NY Times article. M. J. and I chatted about how we'd both noticed that everyone in the article was male, and that it'd be good to have a woman's take on the topic.

I called the reporter back, but she'd already interviewed someone, a man, and she didn't want to do any more interviews on the topic. I suggested that it might be interesting to have the perspective of a woman bicyclist, but she  sounded bored by the idea.

Between reading the NY Times article and getting the call regarding the interview, I thought I'd start a blog for posts by women who pedal and have a helmet cam. Voila!

If you're interested in submitting something, please post it to YouTube, and send me a link.

Here's the first bike video I posted.

Ride on!

Rebecca Roush