Find us on Facebook

Find Willie Weir’s speaking information

Find Kat Marriner’s design portfolio

Kat Marriner : March 21st, 2010

Bike Culture

DSC_9385The Seattle BikeExpo was last weekend, and by the look of it, the bike scene is all about flashy sport gear, big organized rides, exotic tours, and power-sport-energy-nutrition-gonzo-bars. I nibbled a few bars, but I was really at the BikeExpo to attend a forum on “Bike Culture”. My general assumption was that the five panelists would talk about the integration of bikes into our modern, urban culture — the headway and the roadblocks.

The gender makeup of the panel, 4 men and 1 woman, was disheartening, even if it was an accurate representation of the cycling gender divide. It was an obvious example of how small of a voice women have in the bikiest of bike cultures — the Bike Expo. Looking around the Expo in general, you would get the impressing that to be a cyclists means suiting up in bright, shiny moisture-wicking, synthetic fibers, clicking your high-tech specialized shoes into your pedals, and riding your ultra-tricked out machine really, really fast. Sure, some cyclists do that—both men and women. Some ride for speed, endurance, endorphins and bragging rights, but that whole mentality is counter-productive to bringing bike culture into mainstream culture. What struck me about the BikeExpo in general was how little effort was made by vendors to show bikes as a way of life. Bikes were represented as a leisure/sport activity that is done on the side of life.

DSC_9209I’ve been thinking about how we get more people riding bikes as their everyday short-trip vehicle of choice and think that targeting women is a key ingredient, and the marketplace in America has neglected this segment of potential riders and shoppers. Fewer bikes are made to fit women’s bodies and the majority of the gear sold at bike shops (and BikeExpos) does not address the needs of running the quick and easy errand, but instead continues to focus on the sport rides in spandex. When the time comes that you walk out of your house and automatically ride your bike to the grocery store in your neighborhood instead of hopping into your car to get the quart of milk or bottle of wine for dinner, then we’ll have an integrated bike culture.

The panel discussion nibbled around the edges of this lack of women representation, but fortunately the lone women of the forum, Amy Walker, is the publisher and creative director of Momentum magazine. I can only imagine the charge I would get out of 5 Amy Walkers talking about how we live life — get to work, shop for new clothes, meet for lunch, run errands, get to community meetings, go to the dentist, arrive at a dinner party, take our kids to school, enjoy a date night, transport our pets to the vet — on two wheels.

Momentum magazine provides urban cyclists with the inspiration, information and resources to fully enjoy their riding experience and connect with local and global cycling communities.” So says their web site.

DSC_9125Momentum is dazzling eye candy for women like me who want my bike to be an extension of who I am and how I choose to live, shop, work, and play. Momentum does for people on bikes what Dwell magazine does for lovers of modern, urban architecture and design. It makes me want. It makes me want to consume with its ads for beautiful city-geared bicycles, stylish bike bags, and life-style spotlights on people living — and making a living — as part of the two-wheeled culture. The fashion and stories show beautiful people living a dreamy life that I want to cultivate.

Which begs the question then, if BikeExpo had a large component of bikes and bicycle accessories for women living a cycling lifestyle, would more of those weekend trail riders want to integrate cycling into regular life? Could the bike-fashion-lifestyle trend grow and entice more women on bikes, which would lead to more awareness of bike riders, better safety measures, improved bike parking, calmer traffic, and ultimately utopia?

A girl can dream… And I dream of a day that my friend Michele wants to meet me at the bakery in Ballard on her bicycle. We will wear cute shoes.

Willie Weir : March 12th, 2010

Google Maps Bike Route Option–Not Ready for Prime Time

Alright. The good news is that Google Maps has added a Bike Route option. Great. But a quick “get direction by bike” request from near our place on Beacon Hill to Pike Place Market yields some scary results.

Google Maps Bike Route to Pike Place Market

Click on the link above. Yikes!!!! No bike route should include Rainier Ave … ever.

Google Maps Car Route to Pike Place Market

What I find entertaining, is that the car route above would be one of my preferred routes by bike. Who doesn’t want to scream down Holgate at 40mph?

So I wouldn’t use this service to find a bike route yet. What I would suggest, is to put your regular destinations in the Google Maps bike route option and then use the link to report roads that aren’t suitable for cycling. Or suggest a completely different route.

Google does include the following statement:
“Bicycling directions are in beta. Use caution and please report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren’t suited for cycling, and other problems here.” (linked java).

I would, however, suggest that Google reword their notice to read:
“Bicycling directions are in super-beta. They may just send you on a route that could get you killed. Consult your city bike map or cycling friend before following any Google bike route directions.”

I applaud Google for including cyclists, but this option is not ready for prime time.  With your input, it could be ready sooner rather than later.

Kat Marriner : March 10th, 2010

Where is my carrot?

I just received an invitation to a meet-up with the makers of Pandora (the Music Genome Project)  held at Seattle’s downtown public library, and it was all well and good until I got to this:

Parking: Pandora will provide complimentary parking for attendees at the Seattle Public Library parking garage on Spring Street between 4th and 5th Ave. The entrance is mid-block on the south side of Spring St.   Please bring the ticket from the machine to the meeting and you will be given a coupon that you can present to the parking lot attendant after the event.

Really? Pandora is going to pay people for driving to downtown Seattle? That just strikes me as an old, tired way of thinking which I didn’t expect from such an exciting new company and our über modern library.

So this was my response to their invitation:

Hi Tim,
It would be wonderfully  progressive if Pandora gave an incentive for arriving by public transportation, foot or bicycle instead of rewarding people for driving a vehicle to a downtown urban center. You want to change the way we listen to music. I want to change the way we live in our communities.

Does the Seattle Public Library and Pandora really want people to drive to the event? They offered drivers a carrot…

Willie Weir : March 2nd, 2010

Bike Freedom vs. Bike Fear

Here is just one example of why Europe will always have a larger percentage of their populace on bikes than here in the U.S.

Here is an ad from Hungary:

Ride your bike and get exercise, fresh air, and a child-like feeling of euphoria.

Let’s contrast that with a PSA from LA:

Ride your bike if you dare. One mistake … and you’re bug splatter.

Freedom vs. Fear.