Friday, December 16, 2011

Bike Safety Ed

NEW!  BICYCLE SAFETY FOR ADULTS – Do you want the confidence to bicycle more often?  Would you like to learn the Rules of the Road and how to safely bicycle on local streets?  Then this class is for you!  Join local League Cycling Instructors, certified through the League of American Cyclists, to learn:  Illinois Rules of the Road, Bicycle handling and traffic skills, How to fix basic mechanical problems and Safety – common causes of crashes and how to avoid them.  This will be a two-hour classroom presentation and interaction program designed to equip you with the basic information to bicycle more confidently.  Interested students can then take the Bicycle Safety Skills for Adults class that offers parking lot drills to practice bicycle handling skills. Class meets Apr. 26. 
Thursday - 6:00 - 8:00 pm...... Room 1156 UHS
One session (2 hours)........... $15.00
NEW!  BICYCLE SAFETY SKILLS FOR ADULTS – Do you feel you lack the skills to bicycle safely?  Would you like to learn basic bicycle riding skills from a certified instructor?  Sign up for this class and you will learn and practice basic bicycle handling skills.  Local League Cycling Instructors, certified through the League of American Cyclists, will demonstrate and assist students in learning and practicing the following skills:  Starting & Stopping, Straight Line & Shifting, Scanning, Scan/Signal/Turn, Quick Stop, Rock Dodge, Avoidance Turn and Quick Turn.  This class is open to students 16 and older (16 & 17 year olds must have parental permission) who can ride a bicycle.  This is a two-hour class that will be held off-road in a parking lot.  Students must bring their own bicycle and helmet.    Class meets May 3. 
Thursday - 6:00 - 8:00 pm..........
Urbana Parking Lot #24 (near corner of Illinois & Broadway)
One session (2 hours).......... $15.00

For more info go here.

Use Your Turn Signals, Please!

This has been a pet peeve of mine for, well ever, since I learned to drive certainly. Please, please, please, please use your turn signals! I was almost hit a week ago when a car was on Washington heading west (or so I thought since he had no turn signal) and I was on Washington crossing Prospect heading east. It was dark, but I had a front light on and reflective clothing. The car ended up turning left (south) onto Prospect and came within inches of my bike. I had the right of way since we were both at stop signs and I arrived first and was going straight. I was in the street. I had a wary eye out for the driver because I know often drivers do not use their signals when no cars are in front or behind them. Use your signal EVERY time. I don't care if the place is deserted, use it.

Yes, cyclists need to signal as well. I try to, even when I don't see anyone else around. The only times I don't signal is when I can't spare a hand from my bike to keep it upright. This is an issue with a full load on my bike and making a turn. I wonder if we should have handlebar lights that can be used as signals. I wonder if cars would notice them. Sometimes I think we are completely invisible and it doesn't matter what we do, drivers will never see us or care. I mean they never seem to have any negative consequences to hitting a pedestrian or driver. Oh to live in a place where pedestrians and cyclists were respected instead of loathed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Staying Warm

It is that time of year again when we opt for the bus more than our bikes. Here is Josie (four) waiting patiently and warm for the bus. We still ride to school and home with our 11 year old son. With all of us expending energy we can keep pretty warm. Josie starts to get cold for long trips on my Xtracycle even when she is pretty bundled up because she gets the breeze from riding, but none of the warmth producing exercise.

She does ride her own pedal bike now (she was loving her balance bike so much she wasn't interested until Thanksgiving weekend). Yet, she is slow close to the ground and not super visible (even with her bright orange bike) that she still rides on my Xtracycle for longer rides.

Skull caps are key to cycling in the winter, in my opinion. They are thin enough to fit under your helmet, but warm. Add a neck gator and you are toasty. Good gloves are also nice. Lobster gloves in sub-zero temps are great, but any quality gloves work most of the winter. Especially for the kids, make sure the gloves still allow for good bike control and breaking. Don't forget, the shorter days mean you need a light with you at all times. Be careful and be seen!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dress for Car Free Success

What to wear, what to wear? It is that time of year in lovely C-U when the temps start to fall and so does the rain.

Yesterday I walked Josie to ballet for her comfort and mine. I stayed warmer and dryer walking with her in the Chariot trailer than if I'd hooked it up to my bike. I was completely comfortable in my Mountain Hard Wear jacket there and back in low to mid-40's temps and steady rain. I didn't even need gloves and walking/pushing Josie kept me almost too warm (I had a short sleeve shirt and thin hoodie underneath). Layers is the name of the game, I suppose. My only complaint is my shoes. The puddles were unavoidable on the walk home and I definitely day dreamed about rain boots by the time my cold toes were home since they didn't come into a nice warm house. We don't have the heat on and our sweet old home is in the 50's from now until next spring.

The bike ride to pick up Parker from school (need to cover same cycling to school soon) was not as pleasant. My Mountain Hard Wear jacket is not a good color for cycling in the dark gray rain and it was still quite soaked from my late morning walk. I grabbed my brighter colored old North Face jacket. It is really a bit to big for me. I bought it about 15 years ago on sale, but it is a men's small and really never fit right. I can bring the hood over my helmet a bit, which was nice. I'm thinking of getting a non-traditional helmet. They seem to have good coverage and be warmer. Anyway, Parker's helmet was soaked and both our seats were too by the time he was out at the bike rack. I need to remember to keep a towel in my Xtracycle for rainy days. I had fingerless cycling gloves on and my hands were cold. Parker had full cotton gloves and he was fine.  I need to find him some better fall/winter cycling gear. His Marmot coat is getting snug and really isn't waterproof. It has held up great to a lot of use and abuse for two years and will be handed down to Dema so no complaints.

I was checking out options online before Champaign Surplus has their sale this weekend. I am eyeing the Portland Jacket at Shower's Pass since it is on sale. Only smalls and XL left. I bought Rob a medium a while back and he loves it, but his is definitely too big for me. I wonder if a small will work and it really wouldn't be warm enough in winter.
 Rob wears his a lot, but usually just spring and fall (or ice skating). Is there such a thing as rain/winter cycling wear that I could use for all seasons? I also like Nau's Sussinct Trench, on sale, but can't tell if it will be warm enough and after a closer look it is actually out of stock. I was in Evanston a couple weekends ago and found a jacket I would love to have at Athleta, but I don't see it online and it wasn't a top layer for winter.

The one thing I am sure I'll be wearing from now until April is my Title Nine Pants. I bought them several years ago and the only thing I see on their website similar is this. I practically live in these pants in cooler weather. I never feel cold below the waist with these babies on, but be warned they are super warm and don't try to workout inside in them unless you want to pass out from heatstroke.

What are you wearing?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bicycle Repair Station in Urbana

Awesome! Urbana Installs Bicycle Repair Station. Can't wait to see several other repair stations popping up around the CU area.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Hate Cars or Maybe Drivers Who are Completely Clueless

Soooooooooo sooooooooo sick of stupid drivers in C-U. I don't want to hear people whine about the crazy cyclists or peds who come out of "nowhere", whatever, the bikes and pedestrians won't kill you. Some woman in a red car turning left onto Main St. from Neil in downtown Champaign around 1pm this afternoon almost hit my three year old. We were crossing Main between Jim Gould and Guido's with the crosswalk light and she doesn't even slow down. I had to scream stop to my daughter and luckily she stopped in time to have the car pass within a couple inches (not even slowing down). I HATE PEOPLE WHO DRIVE CARS WITHOUT REALIZING WHAT A CAR CAN DO TO A PERSON. I think people should have to look at a picture of a ped or cyclists bloody and dying after being hit by a car before they are allowed to drive...each and every time.

End of mama bear rant.

I am taking suggestions for places to move where cars actually stop when they are supposed to or better yet are not even allowed. Oh to have the money to buy an island somewhere and ban all motorized vehicles.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Driving a Car is Big Responsibility, Don't Take it Lightly

To the woman in the SUV with plate REC 6, driving in downtown Urbana this morning. You might have been able to avoid the elderly man walking across the street near the UFL easier if you hadn't been texting and driving. You had a passenger, let them text, or pull over and text. Drive when you have the time and attention to drive. Thank you.

I have seen an unprecedented number of drivers in the last week not taking driving seriously. It is shocking. When you drive a car, you have an awesome responsibility. The car is a very heavy object, often being used at high can easily kill. Yes, there are cyclists and pedestrians who make poor choices, but usually those choices hurt them and not others. When my father taught me to drive, he paid special attention to those not in cars...they are not as predictable because they are dealing with debris in the street or they may be in the street or on sidewalks in places you would not expect a car. It is my responsibility as a driver to be aware of what is around me; cars, pedestrians, cyclists, a stray trash can, the neighbor's dog/cat, etc. It really just takes one text or other distraction to take your life or the life of someone else.

Please drive responsibly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Update on ZipCar

Their official email to me said they were defleeting C-U to give Chicago more cars. They said this is done now and we have one car located in downtown Champaign again.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

ZipCar Has Just Lost a Customer

Ticked at ZipCar today. They have changed the location for their cars and no longer have a presence in downtown Champaign. This makes their service completely and utterly useless for us and others we know who used them in Champaign. Why this change during the summer too...fewer people on campus. Talked to two people at Zipcar and have no info on why the location was changed or if there will be cars in downtown Champaign again at a future date. We were never notified of a change in location. Grr.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bike to Work Day 2010 and 2011

I just realized as I sat down to post about this year's Bike to Work Day that I never covered last year's. Tsk, tsk.

Bike to Work Day 2010. We went out on our errands early so we could stop by the downtown station, get our tires pumped up, register our bikes (Parker rode his red bike and I took the two younger ones on my Xtracycle). It was fun for the kids and we even ended up on the news that year (not interviewed, just footage of us at the BtWD station). After we chatted with a few fellow cyclists, we had a quick bite to eat Aroma (a downtown cafe). This just goes to show, how cycling can help local businesses. If we had been in a car, we would not have stopped.
Josie is covering her ears because it is 10:00AM on the first Tuesday of the month and the tornado sirens are sounding (test). PB and J on whole wheat with grapes, potato chips (big treat!) and a fruit cup.
Dema looking so young a year ago outside Aroma.
Next we went to the Champaign Public Library to check out some books. The kids are looking into the sun and it was such a nice warm spring day. This year, it was cold and blustery.
Bike to Work Day 2011 started early for Rob. Since he is now working at home (yes, he works from home and we homeschool so we really didn't have to leave the house to commute to work), he decided to volunteer at the downtown Champaign station bright and early. Rob saw at least half a dozen neighbors come through his station. He also received the cute "I Bike to Work" sticker above to sport on his Shower's Pass Portland Jacket, I bought for him last fall (best investment for cycling in the cold/rain). He was sure to warm up his hands on all of us since we were still snuggling in our pjs reading books when he arrived home. The kids and I didn't get out until the afternoon to run our errands so we missed the Bike to Work festivities, but still participated in spirit (it was tempting to hop on a bus, but we biked since it was Bike to Work Day).
Parker was on his bike and I took the younger ones (now seven and three) on my Xtracycle again. We trekked to Urbana for our errands; Strawberry Fields, Urbana Free Library, a local bank, Common Ground Co-op, and a surprise stop at Brownfield Sports. It was warmish when we left our house early afternoon, but by the time we were heading home, around five, it was downright cold and we were cycling into the wind. I knew we could not make the trip in our short sleeve shirts so I made a quick b-line into Brownfield Sports for some sweatshirts. I have never been in the store before and again if we had been in a car or even on the bus, I would probably not stopped in, but it saved us from freezing our buttums off. Cycling supports local businesses! See Josie above as we arrived home with our haul. She is eating goodies from Common Ground Co-op and sporting her new pink Illinois t-shirt (adult size, but it kept her warm).
Here is our haul for the day; a dozen library books (including Sugar Changed the World, a book that caught my eye and I decided to assign to Parker for a homeschooling project), bag of pink lady apples, three apples Josie had to pick out for herself, unsweetened chocolate soymilk (another Josie pick), three loaves of Strawberry Fields Veggie Seed bread, a Common Ground breakfast burrito (Parker's pick paid for with money he earned picking up sticks so I could use the reel mower on our overgrown lawn), three bulbs of garlic, a couple onions, three ears of corn (Josie again, she burned through her stick money), several bunches of kale, guacamole, bag of salad mix, three bunches of collards, romaine hearts, Just Coffee, recycled plastic duster, tea seed oil, and my newish vegan purse (red). Pretty much all the food is organic. The soy yogurt container had over $50 in change (hence the stop at the bank), but came home empty. A three year old and seven year old are not pictured. It feels good to do our weekly shopping on my bike instead of the bus again, even if the ride home was brutal. Josie quote from the back of the Xtracycle as we rode into the frigid wind, "Wind, I know you love me, but I need some space!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

C-U Sharing the Road

If you haven't seen this yet, check it out. This little clip on cycling safety recently won an award. You might see a few faces you recognize. The kids and I are parking our bikes at the local library.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Better Days

It is a beautiful sunny winter day today, but with the alerts out already about an impending winter storm, I thought I'd post some pictures from late November.
It was an extremely blustery November day when we headed out with the kids to buy some window treatments. The store we headed to was west of our house and there is no really good way to bike there. I had Parker (ten years old) on my Xtracycle and Rob had our three year old in the Chariot trailer and our six year old on his Xtracycle. The ride over was super tough on my knees because of the added weight of my son and the crazy wind gusts. I blew out my knee as we arrived. So on the way home, Rob took everything...three kids plus loads of curtains and curtain rods. The wind was sort of in our favor on the way home, but still it was a haul. I love him!