LADY EDITORIAL: 3 WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Wreaths tacked upon doors, grills, and fenders. Lights stranded meticulously… or haphazardly. Seasonal dustings of warmth atop tops of trees and bushes; neighboring properties swallowed in blizzards of night-time fluorescence (and unfathomable utility bills).

Torrential breezes muffled-yet-audible near globes and larger-than-life-size rotund men in red suits, made more roly-poly in appearance with seams stretched taut, rhythmically rocking with each gust. These inflatable totems contain the “holiday spirit” much like our belts contain our widening ham/tofu/cookie-filled bellies – limits tested and eager to explode.

Walking and riding past each individual display, I can’t help but notice the variations on “holiday” each presents, and how they speak to the lives of the people within.

*A single strand thrown lopsidedly across an overgrown tree: 20-somethings sharing a home, “hey, we decorated!” attempt at creating a more adult home.

*A cascade of perfectly positioned lights from corner-to-corner and back again: wealthier couple with children whose father or mother has made this able-to-enact-whilst-watching-the-kids hobby a yearly tradition, expanding in exorbitance from year to year.

*A modest, imperfect wrapping of several trees and shrubs: 30-somethings, likely a couple, expressing their nostalgic holiday memories while creating new traditions of their own.

Of course this is assumption, but it’s fun to imagine. And all of this nuance, this imagining, these lovely displays soak in more fully when passing atop two-wheels (or two-feet). Taking time to notice. Taking time to absorb all the life, in all its displays, around us. Taking time… it’s something I do too rarely, and something we all need a bit more of.

I feel blessed to live in a place where I can walk (mostly) safely and ride (mostly) without fear, and to live surrounded by so many people who are so different, yet so open, so non-judgmental of the idiosynchronicity of others. Where you can embrace your quirks and uniqueness fully, and where you’re not only free of the pressures to be-as-you-should, you’re more respected for fully being whoever you really are.

There is so much to be grateful for so much of the time. And from this foundation of gratitude, I’d like to share 3 wishes I have this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment with wishes of your own.

1) I wish our streets were safer. For everyone.

Morgan Maynard CookJoseph “Joey” Randall Ransly StoneViJay Dalton-Gibson. The list of victims goes on, and on, and on, and on. Every time it breaks my heart. Every time I think about the families left without loved ones during the holidays, left with empty chairs at the dinner table, and empty spots in circles gathered round roaring fires and festooned trees. Spots that will remain empty forever. A void that never stops feeling… empty.

My parents were nearly left with that void a year and a half ago when a careless driver ran a stop sign into a neighborhood greenway… into me.

We’ve learned to just accept this carnage and tragedy, at a rate of over 88 people killed per day (that’s about 4 deaths per minute), not to mention the enormous numbers of serious, life-long injuries. Why? Because we want to be able to travel when we want to, and most importantly, because we want to drive ourselves to the places we need to go (and in many places, because that is our only option). Equity in access to transit and safe biking and walking facilities is abominable, and more and more the ability to walk near your home is becoming a privilege.

Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, came to speak in Portland a little while ago, and I remember being taken aback by one particular statement he made: “cars kill people”.  “That’s a bit inflammatory,” I remember thinking. But overtime, the statement sunk in, and it became apparent that the sentiment wasn’t radical. It was truth.

If you are riding a bike, if you are walking, if you take a bus, if you take a train – all of these options contain a chance of death and injury to yourself and others (so does living). But walk into someone on a sidewalk, accidentally run into someone on your bike… the consequences of inevitable human error are far less disastrous when not backed by thousands of pounds of environment-muffling steel. 

We will always fail. We are human. But when we fail at 40mph, even at 20mph, in steel, people are far more likely to die, including people just engaging their legs as they’re intended (or those playing, as children often do, in their own front yard).

I still drive occasionally, and I grew up driving for nearly all of my trips. I know how hard it is to see the realities of something considered a touchstone of American life. An essential. The truth is uncomfortable, and it implicates us all: Every time we drive our car, we put other people and ourselves at risk. Not only due to crashes, but due to the pollution we cannot see that gives us and everyone living around us cancer, breathing ailments, and more.

We can do so much better, and we owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities to try. Just try. What if we drove less? What if we spent less on roads for steel-boxes and more on education? What if more people could live longer and better because they added activity to their day during their commute? What if you could save your own life, your mother’s life, you friend’s life, a stranger’s life by taking an extra 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes to get to where you’re going? Wouldn’t that be time well spent? And what if our city policy prioritized equitable transit for all, with preference for expenditures based on greatest benefit to surrounding communities (walking first, transit second, bike facilities third, high-speed rail fourth, driving last)? It’s a lot of change, which is not and will not ever be well received at first, but more importantly it’s progress. For our health, our budgets, our happiness.

This holiday season, all I wish for are representatives WITH VISION, the kind who see the damage of a freeway running through downtown and stop saying “we have to account for SOV driving demand” and start asking “how can we eliminate the demand in the first place?”.

Most importantly, I wish for streets that unite us, where we can gather and see one another, and where we can live and commute without the daily reality of wondering whether or not we’ll make it home alive.

2) I wish I could remember how lucky I am. Everyday.

In the words of the venerable Kanye West, “time is the only luxury.”

My family. They’ve supported me through the hardest year of my life, they’ve frustrated me to no end, and they’ve given me love for being exactly as I am. How often do I forget how many people do not share this luxury? How many people wish they’d had the opportunities, support, and care that I have taken for granted?

How many people have no families to even have the option of going home to? And my dearest friends who have become my family out west… we all like to feel we could do it alone, but the reality is we can’t. I forget to open my eyes and see all the goodness in my life from time to time, and all I wish for this holiday season is to remember to see it more often.

Legs that (luckily) still work and take me where I’d like to go. A roof over my head and lovely people to share it with. The opportunity to educate myself everyday. Access to warm showers and heated rooms. Sidewalks and neighborhood greenways and transit that free me from the constraints of car travel. Amazing and not-so-amazing neighbors and strangers who smile at me for no reason, or say “hello” as they pass me by. There are so many things everyday that make life worth living and bring me happiness. Much as I savor my surroundings when pedaling past, it’s time I savored my living as it passes me by.

3) I wish that I could do more and be a more active part of improving the lives of everyone in my community.

Finding the time to volunteer, to push for change, to shape the world in my backyard. That time is there, and I often find a way to be involved. As I once heard a young poet say, “your observation becomes an obligation.” If I know it is wrong and I know it can change, then it is my duty to refuse to be silent. All I wish for this year is to continue that drive, not to give up because I am frustrated, and to keep trying to be the change I wish to see. I hope more of you will join me, and I hope we can all work together to create a better future for ourselves and future generations.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and as always, Ladies (and Lady-lovers): Remember to enjoy the ride.

XOXO

ANOTHER TRAGEDY IN OUR STREETS – A PLEA FOR CHANGE

Share, Ladies (& Lady-lovers). No one should ever fear for their life, or lose their child, just because they’re walking or riding a bicycle.

An emotional plea from the parents of Allison Liao, a 3 year-old who was recently run over and killed in a NYC cross-walk. This video is hard to watch, leading this Lady to tears. It is also a moving argument for why our streets need to change.

Streets are for people. It’s time we took them back.

FROM THE VIDEO:

The police know the driver was in the wrong, they issued him two traffic tickets… Ali paid the death penalty for crossing the street. It is unbelievable that the driver’s penalty is two tickets, and our daughter is gone…

So, our message to all drivers is simple. Please, before you get behind the wheel, and realize that the machine you are about to operate can kill people. We may drive everyday, but we need to be conscious of the enormous responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel. We urge drivers to pay attention to the road, and to SLOW DOWN. YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS, they have the RIGHT OF WAY and it’s the right thing to do. Your vehicles weigh one ton of steel, the average human body weighs a fraction of the vehicle and is made up of fragile flesh and bones. New Yorkers are always in a  hurry, but we challenge drivers to pause and ask: IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth RUNNING OVER A CHILD because you are running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text a date and time of their child’s funeral? Is it worth looking at the phone when it causes a mother to look at their daughter in the ER as they try to resuscitate her daughter?

We ask you to pause, because if the driver who killed our happy daughter on that fateful day had PAUSED, perhaps I would not have to stand before you today. Where did he need to go in such a hurry that he couldn’t stop for a few seconds to let an elderly lady and her granddaughter cross the street? We challenge drivers to pause and ask, is it worth it? Because the next person killed by a reckless driver may be someone you love.

COFFEE WITH A SIDE OF BIKES

Bikes + Coffee = bike share of the future?

Bikes + Coffee = bike share of the future?

Your morning brew with a side of bicycle? Lovely!

A creative, low-fi bike share program based in coffee shops has started in the Czech Republic.

Grab a cup, put down a deposit, and ride your new foldable bicycle for the day.

Despite obvious reservations a Lady (or Lady-lover) may have at first conceptualization (theft? damage? what if I hate coffee?), the program has been awesomely effective.

More from TheAtlantic:

Brno’s project is small – so far only five bike points are involved – but the city’s alternative and apparently unique model still has some very useful lessons for other cities looking to get more citizens biking.

Firstly, Brno shows that you don’t always have to go big, either in bike numbers or in sponsors. Major bike-share schemes typically involve major enterprises like Citibank and Barclays, but Brno’s participants are all small, local businesses – its hub is a café, bar and arts venue in Brno’s old city called Kavarna Trojka. While participants like Trojka need to take a long view, they clearly believe they can recoup their investment in a few bikes by encouraging more customers to buy drinks, by developing user loyalty and creating a city-wide publicity platform for themselves and the events they host.

Secondly, micro-schemes mean you don’t necessarily need to invest in new infrastructure. Brno has no docking stations, specially designed vehicles or bike redistribution system. All it relies on is participating venues having enough space to store some fold-up bikes.

Thirdly, Brno proves that you can have private bike-share start-ups even in cities lacking the cash or political momentum to create larger public schemes.

Creating a devoted & loyal customer base, eliminating the need for large corporate sponsors  (a problem Portland’s bike share has already encountered)… these Ladies (and Lady-lovers) may be on to something!

While this model may not be effective in every city, the idea of micro-share, or at least placing bikes and stations at locally sponsored and run locations, can open up bike share to larger swaths of the city and give citizens a greater sense of ownership of, and therefore responsibility for, the program. Imagine if in, say, Portland, communities could operate and fund bike share by-the-station rather than a large, random corporate donor overseeing the entire network?

Alberta share stations brought to you by the Vernon Neighborhood Association and Alberta Main Street? Downtown station brought to you by the Ace Hotel? This could expand bike share to where it’s really needed: beyond downtown.

What do YOU think Ladies (and Lady-lovers)? Would you like a bike with your coffee? Or perhaps a bike with your neighborhood main street?

Keep riding, supporting local business, and spreading the love, Ladies!

XOXO

LADY OWNED, FOCUSED, AND RUN BIKE SHOP OPENS IN PORTLAND, OR

More Women riding bikes more often.

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

Gladys Bike Shop in N Portland, OR

That’s precisely the goal of Gladys Bikes, a new bike shop located inside the HUB building along the heavily ridden Williams corridor in Portland, OR (3808 N Williams, Suite 132, Portland, Oregon 97227). If you’re a Lady riding Vancouver/Williams, you need to check this place out.

Owner Leah Benson has stocked her shelves with essentials for a comfortable and fabulous ride, from reflective flower pins and helmet bows, to rain jackets, saddles, helmets, and more. Also offering Lady-run maintenance, classes, and bike fittings from an oh-so-accessible $50, Gladys is exactly the kind of shop that makes entering the realm of riding feel approachable for Women of all ages and abilities.

And did I mention free cookies?

Lovely reflective pins!

Reflective pins… and cookies

While the face of two-wheeled travel is still predominantly male, shops like Gladys are tapping into what happens to be the fastest growing segment of the two-wheeled world: Ladies! From the League of American Bicyclists:

Looking at the gender breakdown, the data shows the total number of women bike commuters in 2012 grew to 236,067, which is an almost 11% increase from 2011. More broadly, women commuting by bike has grown by 58.8% since 2006. What’s more, the ACS data shows that the growth in bike commuting by women is outpacing that of men. Between 2011 and 2012, the growth in bike commuting by women was 10.9%, compared to 8.4% for men.

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

The lovely Leah Benson, owner of Gladys

Gladys Bikes is a lovely shop in a great location with a wonderful owner and mission worth supporting. Check out the accessories and awesomeness in the space just behind Ristretto next time you’re riding by, and in the meantime, you can check out and LIKE Leah’s shop on facebook, and attend her clinic “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Bike (But Were Afraid to Ask) on 10/17 @6:30pm at the shop.

Keep pedaling, supporting local Lady-run businesses, and enjoying the ride, Ladies!

XOXO

NEW BIKE SALES OUTPACE NEW CAR SALES IN VAST MAJORITY OF EUROPE

Ladies, Ladies everywhere! (…and Lady-lovers, too!)

According to a recently release study from Europe, of 27 different countries where data is recorded, 23 have seen bicycle sales outpace new steel-box sales. Only Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Ireland saw the inverse.

While some attribute the sales to shifting behavior patterns related to the recession, this data has been trending towards two-wheels since 2000. The shift was potentially fueled by post-recession lifestyle changes, and shows no signs of stopping.

Huzzah!

More from TheGuardian:

Bike sales exceeded those for cars in all but 4 of the 23 European countries we looked at (those were Italy, Spain, Belgium and Ireland). The biggest gap was in the UK where in 2011, 1.3 million more new bikes were sold than new cars were registered.

So many Ladies! So much more street livability!!

So many Ladies! So much more street livability!!

Two-wheels trending upward, much like  the splendidness of the streets where Ladies ride :)

Two-wheels trending upward, much like the splendidness of the streets where Ladies ride :)

More people are choosing two-wheels for more trips, and the industry boom is creating jobs and revenue across the globe. Fabulous for the economy, connecting communities, and increased daily joy.

Keep riding, encouraging your friends to ride, and smiling as we pedal toward Fall, Ladies!

XOXO

 

LADYGYVER: TIP #1, THE ESSENTIAL HAIR TIE

I’ve discovered over the past several years some repurposing, rethinking, reusing, and DIY-able loveliness for the daily Lady (& Lady-lover) commuter.

I’ll be sharing these tidbits and tips in my new segment “LadyGyver”. And if you think you have a tip worth sharing, contact us through the “why I ride” section of the website and we’ll share you’re ingenuity with the world!

Essential LadyGyver item: The Hair Tie

Essential LadyGyver item: The Hair Tie

LADYGYVER TIP #1: The Essential Hairtie

A Lady is always prepared. And a hair tie can prove one of the most useful preparation tools to carry atop two-wheels! I just leave it around my wrist when not in use, but you can also leave one or two lassoed to your handlebars, just incase. In a pinch, a rubber band can also do the trick!

-HAIRTIE AS LEG STRAP: In the Fall and Winter, I leave my hair down to cover my ears (if it’s long enough) so I don’t need ear warmers, and use the hairtie as a leg-strap to keep my pant leg out of my chain. I can then pull my hair back upon arrival at my destination. Lovely :)

-HAIRTIE AS LIGHT HOLSTER: No place to attach your rear light when you’re wearing a dress/borrowing a bike/some-other-reason-it-won’t-stay-on-your-bike? Use your hair tie to tie your hair low on your scalp, and clip your rear light to the elastic band . Voila! Instant visibility.

Hair contained? Check. Blinky light attached and visible? Ci! Fabulous!

Hair contained? Check. Blinky light attached and visible? Ci! Fabulous!

-HAIRTIE AS BUNGEE CORD: Need to attach, well, anything to your rack/basket/person? Hairties are great, flexible lassoing tools in a pinch.