Tag Archives: Biking

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Photo Friday: Serene Spring

My family recently took a Sunday bike ride down a wonderful country road not too far from our home. We saw far fewer cars (and more cows) than bikes, as we wound around the two-lane, experiencing wonderful old ranches, trees beginning to flower, rolling green hills, and the most perfect endless blue sky. All agreed that the day and the outing were superb. Of course, I occasionally held the group up, whipping out the camera to preserve the memory. I’m glad I did. Just looking at this photo puts me at peace.

I hope you’re enjoying a serene season, wherever you are.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Photo Friday: World’s Favorite Tulip
Photo Friday: Signs of Spring
First of Spring: Larkspur, CA

Photo Friday: Signs of Spring

Wherever you look in Amsterdam in late winter, there is something .. well, cute. Picturesque. A harbinger of the Spring season to come. The first tulips appear on corners and in big flower markets, their heads still tightly closed. At the same time tulip bulbs are available for sale for those who still wish to get them into the ground.

And of course there are the bikes — flower- and basket- and sometimes person-bedecked. Whizzing by and parked, sometimes two and three deep, in all weather, on the bridges that rise gently over the lovely canals.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Photo Friday: De Kaaskamer Cheese Shop
Photo Friday: Carnival in Venice
Tulipmania: Parts One and Two
Daffodils: Bunches of Spring Sunshine

Bike and Walk to School Day, Month, Life

October 6 (Update: October 3 in 2012) is International Walk to School Day, and the whole month of October has been designated Walk to School Month. Schoolchildren are encouraged to walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, bus, or carpool to school — anything that is different from the one child-one car system. And they’re encouraged to keep doing so, when and if they can. The beauty of the program, which was started in 1997 and expanded from a day to a month in 2006, is that a month is long enough for something like walking to become a routine and a habit, and a special day can energize people who might not have considered walking or biking before.

As of yesterday, more than 3,200 schools had registered for Walk to School Day on the U.S. Walk to Schools web site, a figure that’s expected to both increase throughout the month and be bigger in actuality (as not every school registers its efforts.)

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is also involved in the effort.

Of course, many of us remember when walking and biking to school was the norm and didn’t require any special days or rewards. The Safe Routes to Schools website notes that 42% of all students (and 87% of students within a mile) walked or biked to school in 1969, compared with 16% (and 63% within a mile – frankly, I would have thought that number was lower) in 2001. Busy schedules, parental fears, suburban sprawl, lack of school-bus funding, and other lifestyle shifts have all contributed to a culture of driving to school drop-off zones, even in towns where walking and biking is pretty do-able. I’d love to see figures for today, because I think the norm has shifted once again.

The U.S. Walk to Schools site has a lot of wonderful information about the benefits of walking. The site’s Frequently Asked Questions page has a great checklist to help parents determine the walking and biking safety of their own neighborhoods, as well as suggestions for customizing a walk if the school is too far away for walking or biking. There are also lists of U.S. and international cities and countries that are participating in International Walk to School Day.

My community has been participating in International Walk to School Day, through our local Safe Routes to Schools program, for years. I have witnessed first-hand the increase in regular walkers and bikers to school since the program started. More people, of all ages, out on the streets make them safer for the next group of schoolchildren who comes along. Communities also benefit from getting to know one another better, as they get into the healthy walking habit together. And families, if mine is any indication, experience less stress (the school drop-off zone always seems unnatural and harried. Is it me?) — and more joyful time together when parents can walk with younger children.

The number of participating schools goes up each year — perhaps yours has already planned some events, assemblies or rewards. Let us know!

Enjoy International Walk to School Month!

Here are more great resources:

Marin Safe Routes to Schools
U.S. Safe Routes to Schools
U.S. Walk to Schools
International Walk to Schools
Why Walk and Bike?
Safe Routes Guide for Parents and Teachers (very comprehensive)
Field Notes From the Future: Safe Routes to Schools Publishes New Resource Guides
Car Free Days: Wednesday is Intl Walk to School Day (but you can walk/ride all month)
Car Free Days: Biking to School … Without Parents
Free Range Kids: Non-Sanctimonious Blog About Today: WALK TO SCHOOL DAY!
Slow Family Online: Why Can’t She Walk to School in Today’s New York Times?

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: Car-Free and Carefree

Two stories recently came out about car-free living. One is from the delightful blog, New Urban Habitat, Abby Quillen’s always wonderful, inspiring and useful collection of stories about living more simply, sustainably, healthfully, and happily. Her piece, Lessons in Car-Free Living, contains a wealth of benefits and tips for getting your own family out of the car for short, simple runs.

This is definitely something we’ve been trying to do more increasingly in my household, and have been having good success. We combine bike riding for short distances with public transportation for longer commutes.

Another fan of public transit turns out to be one of the stars of my favorite TV show, the highly evocative, endlessly dissectible Mad MenVincent Kartheiser, who plays ad executive (and new father) Pete Campbell on the show. He recently revealed to the New York Times his utter joy of taking public transportation in Los Angeles, and using it as an opportunity to relax, study his lines, and commune with his fellow passengers — all enthusiasms I share (usually) when taking my local ferries, buses and trains. Said Kartheiser:

I like that my life slows down when I go places. I have all these interactions with the human race and I can watch people living their life and not just in their car.

He also mentioned a recent consumer study from Learning Resources Network that noted that motorists ages 21-30 generally don’t grant car ownership and driving with the same status that older people do. According to the study, this group favors mass transit for commuting and car sharing services, like Zipcar, for longer trips. It turns out that companies like Hertz are listening — They are expanding car sharing choices, especially in big cities and around college campuses.

At 80 million strong, the article notes that this 20-30 age group represents a very large cohort. According to William Draves, president of Learning Resources Network, “This group views commuting a few hours by car a huge productivity waste when they can work using PDAs while taking the bus and train.”

That’s how I feel! Productivity and joy far outweigh the convenience of driving my individual car, especially as I happen to enjoy walking (to/from the public transit), too  — and sometimes find driving a bit stressful. (Of course, the area in question has to offer good public transit and city planning for this to equate.)

The article also notes that, in survey after survey, 20-30 year olds say that they believe cars are damaging to the environment. Even hybrid electric vehicles don’t seem to be changing young consumers’ attitudes much.

Yay for the green young people and others who are adapting habits that are good for their own physical and psychological health and that of the planet. This young group, and the one coming up after it, offers plenty of cause for hope.

I’ll also add that, as with many personal choices, there is usually not one that is all good or one that is all bad. I believe everyone needs to make his or her own choices based on what feels right for them. Sometimes, for me, taking the car is the right thing to do. I remain cheered by the general attitudes and consciousness of the people quoted in this article, including the corporations that are following suit by offering alternative rental cars where young people are.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman: Car-Free Sundays, a Summer 2010 New York City program

You might also like: Bike to Work and School Day

Bike to Work and School Day

May is an especially great month to be a biker. In the U.S., the weather generally cooperates, and there are plenty of Bike to Work and School Days declared. San Francisco cyclists enjoyed Bike to Work Day today. Washington, D.C. and others have declared Friday, May 21, to be Bike to Work Day. And the League of American Bicyclists has declared the entire month of May Bike to Work Month. Their site lists tons of bike-related events happening throughout the month from Anchorage, Alaska to Tallahassee, Florida that should make it easy for almost anyone to ride alone or with a group, take a class, and enjoy other fun activities.

Here are just a few of the fun events that are listed on the League of American Bicyclists page:

Chico, CA: A selection of stores is offering a discount for cycling shoppers through May 15.

Santa Monica, CA: Valet bike parking on Main Street and at the Santa Monica Pier, ongoing

Pueblo, CO: Free breakfasts and prizes for bikers Friday May 21.

Tampa Bay, FL: Bike workshops, and an urban bike restaurant hop on May 27.

Honolulu, HI: Free admission for bikers to the Honolulu Zoo May 16.

Iowa City, IA: Many events including a bike/bus/car race May 18.

St. Louis, MO: Guided bike tours over the bridges that cross the Mississippi June 6.

Trenton, NJ: Trenton bike tour May 22.

Saratoga Springs, NY: Bike to Work and School Challenge May 21.

Roanoke, VA: Various events throughout May, in English and Spanish.

Seattle, WA: Summer Streets Party May 21.

According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, cyclists made up a whopping 75% of the traffic on SF’s Market Street this morning. Here is a great pic of that street’s big green bike lane.

Of course, anyone getting out biking wants to be safe. The League of American Bicyclists offers these tips for bike safety.

Another great resource for information about bike and pedestrian safety and school biking and walking programs is Safe Routes to Schools.

Enjoy biking to work and school and just for fun!

Photos: Top, my family in Acadia National Park, Maine. Above, two of the most inspirational bikers I know – my husband Lippy, who rides almost every day, and my good friend Victoria, who loves to ride more than anyone I know and organizes long, fun rides for herself and her friends.

October is International Walk to School Month

kidswalk

October 7 is International Walk to School Day, and the whole month of October has been designated Walk to School Month. Schoolchildren are encouraged to walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, bus, or carpool to school — anything that is different from the one child-one car system. And they’re encouraged to keep doing so, when and if they can. The beauty of the program, which was expanded from a day to a month in 2006, is that a month is long enough for something like walking to become a routine and a habit.

The International Walk to School-USA site has a lot of wonderful information about the benefits of walking. The site’s  Frequently Asked Questions page has a great checklist to help parents determine the walking and biking safety of their own neighborhoods, as well as suggestions for customizing a walk if the school is too far away for walking or biking.

My community has been participating in International Walk to School Day, through our local Safe Routes to Schools program, for years. I have witnessed first-hand the increase in regular walkers and bikers to school since the program started. More people, of all ages, out on the streets make them safer for the next group of schoolchildren who comes along. Communities also benefit from getting to know one another better, as they get into the healthy walking habit together.

The number of participating schools goes up each year — perhaps yours has already planned some events, assemblies or rewards. Enjoy International Walk to School Month!

(This link will get you to Marin Safe Routes to Schools.)

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Why Can’t She Walk to School? in Today’s New York Times

Another disturbing sign of the times: This article in today’s Times about parents who are so afraid of stranger abduction that they drive a child 5 houses down (yes, you read that correctly) rather than let them walk, or even walk them themselves. Also in the article, a town in which people called 911 at the sight of a 10-year-old walking alone, resulting in a police reprimanding of the parent.

Something is extremely wrong with this picture! The areas of bizarreness and loss include: the dominance of an extreme and unfounded culture of fear, the complete absence of community, and the loss of independence for young people.

kidswalk

I wrote a comment on the New York Times site, which I’ll repost here. It goes to the heart of what Slow Family Online is really about:

“This article both saddened and outraged me. Something is deeply wrong with a society in which children walking or biking short distances to school and to play is not only not the norm, but is actively frowned upon and even criminalized. There are so many things wrong with this picture: Parents are living basically alone, completely car-dependent, with largely unfounded fears and guilt that they are passing on to their children. What is going to become of this generation of children when they go off to college and to jobs and are unable to navigate their surroundings or do anything for themselves?

Children should be given reasonable increments of responsibility, and adults should be there to participate with them and teach them. We biked with our child and taught her road safety. We walked with her to elementary school and taught her how to be aware, use her good judgment, and which neighbors and shopkeepers to call on for help if needed. She is now a relatively independent teen who can navigate our town, call on her own sense of self-reliance, and have a little well-earned space away from hovering parents.

I live in a very safe small town, as I suspect do most of the people quoted in the article. I think that speeding cars pose a much greater hazard than stranger abductions. To that end, our town has a very active Safe Routes to Schools program, which is a model for others, with bike lanes, crossing guards at hazardous intersections during school hours, community involvement and interest, and continuing efforts to make the roads safer for walking and biking. Each year, for the last several years, the amount of children walking or riding to schools here has risen, and many children do this in groups. (Perhaps some parents can channel the energy they spend fretting into organizing walking groups.)

When adults and older children are out on and using our streets, they also become safer for younger children, and we all reap the benefits that come with slowing down, spending quality time together, observing things, greeting neighbors, having fun, gaining independence, being outside, getting exercise, learning about our surroundings, and getting from place to place without a car, when possible.”

This page about Slow Family Online illustrates more of my family and scout troop’s adventures in walking and challenges getting people out of their cars.

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: Bike Commuting is Up & So are Folding Bikes

Two million Americans are riding their bikes to work, says the New York City-based Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for biking, walking, and public transportation as healthier, greener alternatives to the car. Bike commuting in New York City grew an astonishing 35 percent from 2007 to 2008.

As someone who once stored a bike in a Manhattan bedroom, I know that New Yorkers, especially, encounter storage issues, among others, when considering biking in the city. Enter the folding bike — and there are some great ones available now, in different weights, configurations and prices.

Transportation Alternatives offers this very complete rundown of folding bikes.

The New York Times also just road-tested the latest folding bikes and offers this slide show.

Still craving more folding-bike info? This British site, The Folding Society, might offer the last word.

If something is holding you back from bike commuting or riding more, this list at Bikecommuters.com dispels some myths.

In wonderful recent San Francisco biking news, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency recently approved a whopping 45 bike network improvement projects as part of the 2009 SF Bicycle Plan. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition web site has complete details and maps.

All of the above may just be reason to stow a split of Champagne in the bike bag.

VanHauwaert

(No argument from Cyrille Van Houwaert, a dominant early rider in the Paris-Roubaix Classic, from 1908-1911.)

Fairfax Parade and Ecofest

I recently attended the 32nd annual Fairfax (CA) parade and its newer accompanying Ecofest. Both were extraordinary and really showed off the town and its people. The event featured art, music, dance, food, children’s activities, artisinal products, and demonstrations. Themes of sustainability, social consciousness, friendliness and fun overrode the day. It was a beautiful event.

The Ecofest continued through the weekend. Here are some highlights from the parade, Eco Fashion show, and more:

paradebutterfly

paradepurple

paradesillybike2

Many parade entries had themes of Sustainability. This yoke of discarded plastic was particularly effective.

paradeplastic2

paradeplastic1

paradegandhi

paradefloral

paradefairy

paradenative

paradeballoons

Here’s our own Youth Making a Difference entry. Follow us to the Eco Fashion Show and Ecofest.

paradeyouth

The Eco Fashion Show incorporated a group of young women’s many original designs and work, using vintage, recycled, and re-purposed materials. The results were impressive and their enthusiasm was contagious.

Ecofashion1

Ecofashion4

Ecofashion2

Ecofashion3

Ecofashion8

Ecofashion7

Ecofashion6

Ecofashion5

At the Ecofest, we learned about worm composting from local vermicomposting expert David Lee Hoffman and from folks from Garden for the Environment, which gives public workshops on organic and sustainable gardening. We found this composter, available at Fairfax Lumber, ideal for our small gardening space.

festcompost

We also visited with new and old friends among the exhibitors, such as Bay Nature magazine, Environmental Education Center of Marin, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, California Native Plant Society, Bio-Diesel Co-op, the Peace Corps, Tamalpais Natureworks sustainable furniture, and Snow Lotus Essential Oils, which I sampled and which seemed to be of extremely high quality. There were also two bodycare artisans that I highly recommend: Moonflowers Body Care (I like their Jasmine cleanser and Gift of India face cream), and North Rose Botanicals. I bought a little sample bag of North Rose products and can’t wait to replenish the heavenly Rose cleanser, tonic, and moisturizer, which are all wonderfully light in texture and scent.

festflag

Bike parking was packed! A terrific sign.

festbikes

For more about the preparation for the Eco Fashion Show, see:

“Young Crafters Prepare for Eco Fashion Show”

“Eco Fashion Show Part 2: The Screen Printing”

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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