Summertime Adventuring

I’m sure I say this every year, but summer is a busy, busy time for me. What with getting kiddos acquainted with the outdoors via overnight and sometimes 2-night camping trips, I’m often away from home. And often working many, many, (did I say many?) hours.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s awesome. Mostly. I love it and I’m often overwhelmed by how crazy cool it is that I get to spend my time teaching teens and kiddos to love (or appreciate–or at least notice?:) nature. But among other things it does mean that when everyone’s out and about and planning fun summer trips and staying out late on patios drinking beer and having barbeques, when everyone takes impromptu forays to a Mt Tabor sunset or a hike in the Gorge–heck, when people invite me to dinner and we have to plan it for 6 weeks out–that sometimes starts to make me feel like I’m missing out on the most glorious part of the year.

Sometimes, though, if the stars align and if I play my cards right, I can get a week free in there somewhere. And so it is that tomorrow, James and I plus bicycles leave for the San Juan Islands. Seven days of bike adventure, right before my birthday: a double treat :)

All that to say, have fun in Portland, y’all! Catch you in a week or so:)

2 hours of scoping an intersection (or, who’s using the streets?)

You know, it may not sound like all that much fun, but sitting at an intersection corner for two hours, counting the people who go by on bicycles, is actually a pretty interesting endeavor.

Earlier this summer, I signed up to help City of Portland with their yearly summer bicycle counts. What that means is that I joined a whole army of volunteers, each of whom agrees to sit at a specific intersection for two hours, either 4-6pm or 7-9am, one Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday during the summer. For those two hours, we count the number of people who cycle through–not only which direction they’re going, but also whether they’re male or female, whether or not they wear a helmet.

Data like this helps City of Portland show cycling trends, but is also useful to inform decisions about infrastructure and help show success (or failure) of infrastructure improvements.

Plus, on a micro-scale, it’s also pretty darn interesting.

bike count form

Those are my counts for the two hours I sat at NW 24th and NW Thurman on last week’s sunny Wednesday evening. Hunkered down with a vegan cookie from Food Front Co-op right down the street, tucked behind the sparse shade of a planting-strip tree, I settled in for the long haul.

Every time someone cycled through, I meticulously marked their direction of travel, gender, and helmet use. For my own entertainment, I also kept a tally of interesting things carried by bike (mostly a guitar and two children), how many people used the sidewalk as part of their travel through the intersection (15) and also how many people skateboarded (1) or scootered (2) through.

In 120 minutes, 112 people biked through, almost one cyclist per minute. What ws surprising, though, was how sparse that actually felt. One cyclist per minute, when I say it that way, sounds like a lot. At least to me. But when in that minute there are also twenty million cars going through (not to mention 10 million pedestrians), it feels like an awful lot happens between seeing one cyclist and then seeing the next.

I feel like I can’t talk about this without also mentioning the gender split: 77 men; 35 women, or 31% women–which, according to the 2012 Bicycle Count Report (find it here), is about average for Portland. (I’m not sure if that went up at all for 2013, since that report isn’t online.) On this Wednesday, though, for these two hours, women were much more likely to wear helmets than men. Not sure what, if anything, that means:)

Anyway. Like I said, I wasn’t necessarily expecting to enjoy my two hours of sedentary counting, but I actually really did. It’s sort of fun to hunker down and take a two-hour cross-section of street use, especially at an intersection like Thurman and 24th, where there’s so much going on. So many people use one little piece of Portland in a day–it really reminded me how important it is that we can all share.

(If you’re interested, I strongly recommend helping with a bike count sometime. Keep your eye on the City of Portland bike count site for details!)

Sunday Shop Ride with stasia!

It’s gonna be HOT and sunny this Sunday! What better time to come out and play in some of Portland’s most awesome interactive fountains?? Heck yeah! :)

This Sunday, meet at Gladys Bikes for another moderately-paced 2-hour shop ride that will take us to some lovely urban swimming (or at least splashing) holes:) Wear something you can get wet!

When’s it all going down?

  • Sunday, July 13
  • Gladys Bikes, 2905 NE Alberta
  • 9am-11am (meet at 9; we’ll take off at 9:10)

Who’s psyched?? I AM!! Come ride–it’s going to be awesome!! :)

P.S. Rumor has it that Gladys has a new paint job. Check-check it! AND, just sayin’, vegan soft serve at Back to Eden is almost definitely happening post-ride. Yknow. Cuz it’ll be hot and all, and we’ll probably need ice cream. Yeah. :)

(By the way, these shop rides happen EVERY Sunday, not just the Sundays that I happen to be leading them. Every week, 9am-11am. Come join us!)

Sauvie Island: a lovely day’s ride from Portland (plus optional berry-picking!:)

4th of July? Extra day off? Super summery weather? Itching for a bike ride? The ever-present summer desire to eat my weight in ripe berries? That’s a recipe for a trip to Sauvie Island if I ever heard one!

Sauvie Island is a pretty sweet little gem just far enough outside of Portland to make either a great day trip or simply a few hours’ bike ride if it’s only the riding and not the stops that you’re after. For that matter, the number 16 bus takes you right to the Sauvie Island bridge, all you have to do is cross the river and BAM! Tons of miles of pleasant, flat, farmy island riding. (Though the 16 doesn’t run on Sundays).

Without taking the bus, there are bunches of nice ways to ride out there–including ways that almost entirely avoid biking on Highway 30, which, if safe, is fairly loud and unpleasant.

Since James had never biked on Syline Blvd before, we opted to take the long, beautiful, hilly, and Highway-30-avoiding way out to the island, then the shorter way back:

(our route: check-check it! :)


It turned out to be just over 50 miles for the whole ride, with a long stop around 30 miles in at Columbia Farms where we picked about 15 pounds of blueberries (and probably ate about three pounds on the spot. heh).

On the way back, St Johns would generally be an awesome lunch stop–but since it was the 4th of July, everything except for Burgerville was closed. (But I guess that’s what the three pounds of blueberries we’d already eaten were for;) On non-federal holidays, though, that would be a good option.

Like I said, there are many, many ways to get out there, and other than picking berries–or pumpkins, depending on the season–there are also tons of other things to do. There’s a nude beach, for one, as well as non-naked swimming beaches, tons of bird watching, natural areas, a Metro park (Howell Park) with heirloom apples you can pick for free, a boat launch, hiking, and, apparently, Oregon’s smallest lighthouse (I’m going to have to go back to see about that last one;)

It’s a great way to get the heck out of the city without too much effort. And with lots of berries to show for it:) Put some extra tupperware in your panniers!