Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So, About Those Speed Cams...

More Speed Cams for DC? Who says yes? from kate ryan on Vimeo.

What's next?

Beat the Heat Beat

I'm not saying this is desirable. I hate having to yank my bike over snowbanks, but I prefer the role of Winter Weather Warrior to that of Sweaty Summer Soldier. I'm mean, it's still May and we're in the 90's already? Really?

My job today: cover heat-related story. I'm guessing you're going to hear me use the word 'hydrate' at least once.

Got a not-heard-before angle for me? I'm all ears. Oh, and pass the lemonade.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hear Tell: An Interview with Ben Sollee

Is he a bike guy who happens to be a musician, or a musician who happens to be a bike guy?

You don't have to wait until Ben Sollee shows up for his two performances at Iota Club and Cafe in Arlington next month to form your own opinion. You just have to tune in to WTOP at 103.5fm, check our web at WTOP.com, and of course, stick with me here for more.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When Bikes, Cellos and Hip Hop Collide...

...That kind of cultural collision can make beautiful music, and no one has to get hurt.

I've got a great interview with a terrific bike-centric musician on WTOP scheduled for Sunday, so in between checking out WTOP.com and this blog, tune in. If you haven't been paying attention, that's 103.5 FM.

Seriously, a great conversation with a very interesting and super nice guy who happens to like bikes. A lot. Come back tomorrow, you'll see.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Capital BikeShare: the Sweaty Season

So, you soldiered through the Capital Bikeshare's Winter Weather Warrior Contest, and showed you have that 'flinty toughness' that certain residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue like to brag about.

Well now, are you ready to sweat through the simmering summer months in the Reverse Ride Rewards program? Get a load of the latest from goDCgo.com .

Personally, I'm a better Winter Weather Warrior than I am Summer Soldier, how about you?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Calling All Cabi Fans...

Change is hard. Messing with people's new bff--in this case, best bike forever--is even harder.

DDOT will hold a meeting on the expansion of the Capital Bikeshare program tonight.

Where: 441 4th Street NW, Room 1107
When: 6-8pm
More Info, Please: 202.671.3499 ask for Sandy Castor

They want your input. Give it to them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Open Road: Sunday Ride

What would a WTOP traffic report sound like if this were your daily commute? Check the video...

One day out the year, cyclists get to see what it would be like to use the commuter routes that drivers do. BikeDC brings all kinds of cyclists out. Kids, older folks, speedsters, coasters, tandems, even a unicyclist was rolling along with the bikes.

Most folks were clearly experiencing biking bliss, many demonstrated great cycling skill and solid road etiquette, and then, there were the others.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dream of the Open Road?

Whether you're a driver or a cyclist, you know you've had that dream.

Ok, no wait, not that dream, I mean the one where you wish "If only I had the road to myself!"

Well, for a limited time only (from about 7:30am to 11:00am on Sunday) that dream can come true.

It's Bike DC. Sections of the George Washington Parkway and the Jefferson Davis Highway will be closed to traffic. Are you going?

Drivers, take note:
Check in with WTOP for the latest traffic updates, and if you're a planner and want to take a peek at what's ahead, the Bike DC link is given here
Scroll to the bottom, and click on that PDF file and you'll see when and where the closings occur.
But as always, tune in to WTOP for real-time traffic, and the very latest on road conditions.

...and Now This Traffic Update

Get Them to the Church on Time! from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kidical Mass DC: Babies on Bikes

You've heard of Critical Mass...and you may have the image of renegade road warriors on bikes, out to key your car, slap your hood with U-locks and such.*

That is so not this.

If you're a WTOP listener (and if you're not, you should be. I know I am!) you heard an interview I did last month with Megan Odett, the organizer of Kidical Mass DC. The idea is to get parents and kids out on bikes, enjoying fresh air, community, and exercise.

Saturday, I caught up with the group at Pound, a coffee house near the Eastern Market Metro stop. There I met Todd Hettenbach, who was kind enough to tell me why he and son Ethan take part.

Kidical Mass DC: Why bike with kids? from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Kidical Mass DC: How do drivers react? from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Kidical Mass DC: Advice for parents who'd like to try it? from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Thanks Todd! Thanks Ethan!

Hear Tell: An Interview

Hear Tell: to be told a bit of news, to hear tell of something.

When you see Hear Tell on this blog, know that you'll be hearing someone tell me more. More of something you may have heard on WTOP, or just something I thought I'd like to pass on to you here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike To Work Day: Who's That Jerk?!

It's Bike to Work Day.

Cyclists, don't be THIS guy...

And drivers, don't be THIS guy...

Your bosses are waiting for you, so get to work!


Terrific Future Bike To Work Participants...

...and it sounds like these are folks you'll want alongside you on the roadways.

Rockville City announced its "Terrific Bike Awardees".

Here's the idea: the city looks for kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade who demonstrate they are: trustworthy, earnest, respectful, responsible, involved, fair and caring. See how they show they are terrific? (Hint: read those qualities again).

The kids can't just claim they have these qualities; they have to carry out 6 responsible acts and have a parent or mentor vouch for them. Those who are deemed truly terrific get--you guessed it--a bike!

Just who are these kids? Here are the names provided by the City of Rockville. Kids, take a bow, and a ride around the block. This is your day, congratulations.
  • Melanie Tommer
  • Ryan Tommer
  • Michael Xie
  • Nicole Deprey
  • Ritika Naiknavare
  • Karan Naiknavare
  • Joshua Hu
  • Harrison Brown
  • Jisu Kim
  • Minsu Kim
  • Liang Ling
  • Jordan Cerna
  • Lydia Harouna
  • Amina Harouna
  • Maddy Ostlund
  • Ashley Thommana
  • Claudio Pachano
  • Gregory Overton

*and yes, the kids were given helmets as well. The bikes were reconditioned and prepped by the folks at Bikes for the World, a non-profit that connects people with bicycles all over the world. 

Somber Note...The Ride of Silence

This ride was held in advance of Bike To Work Day, but I didn't get a chance to blog on it, and only got some feedback on it today, hence this post.

The Ride of Silence is an attempt to remember those who have been killed in crashes on the road. You can read more about it on the link. You will see several names that may be familiar, WTOP has covered many of these cases, going back more than a decade.

I asked participants to get in touch with me, and one rider who took part in the Rockville ride emailed me to say that "Overall, it was a great ride" and that 19 riders took part. They had several Rockville City police officers riding along with them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike Month: Speeding by and Action-Packed

Spent the morning with the attendees at Montgomery County's Bicycle Conference. Learned a lot, met a lot of folks who want a safe way to get from here to there.  Expect a write up, some stories and more news.*

Favorite quote of the morning : "Bike commuting shouldn't be a crime".

*Be sure to check in at WTOP this week, as we cover Bike To Work Day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sad News Close to Home

On Sunday, a reader of this blog, "Rootchopper" sent me the following:

"Yesterday my wife, a mother of 2, was out for a walk and hit by an SUV. She spent the rest of yesterday at Fairfax Hospital trauma center. She's now at home in bed unable to walk or even stand without assistance. She is in constant pain. I don't know why the SUV driver was in such a hurry that he nearly killed someone. These things are [not] accidents. This was entirely avoidable."

And I also learned that Megan Odett, who organized DC's first "Kidical Mass" family bike ride, and was interviewed on WTOP , was herself hit by a car while taking her son to daycare. I had assumed that she was on her bike,  but she said no, she was on foot. She says she was hit as she was carrying her son in her arms--and was left injured in the street. You can see how she describes it in her Twitter account.

Police are investigating both cases.

Here's hoping they heal up fast, and that you and yours remain safe out there.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day on the Road

On this Mother's Day, how about we try this: whether you are on foot, on your bike, in a car, when you are out on the road-- treat everyone like they are someone's child. Because they are.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Different Kind of Riding, and Dreaming

I'm not a betting woman, but my money, and my heart, is on Pants On Fire in the Kentucky Derby.

Number one; that's a great name for any horse. And the phrase Pants On Fire makes me laugh, and makes me think of a favorite song.

Number two; a young woman who--by her own description, kept her mouth shut and pushed back to earn a place in the high-risk, sometimes brutal world of horse-racing--will be aboard that animal. 

And none of this has a thing to do with bikes--except for this. My first bike, a blue girls's Schwinn that probably came from Marcello's Sporting Goods in Boonton, NJ, was simply a substitute for what I really wanted; a pony.

I was one of those horse-crazy girls who badgered my parents for a pony. Then, seeing I was getting nowhere, downsized that dream to riding lessons. Never happened. (I'm not bitter, really Mom.) Instead, one Christmas morning, I got that blue Schwinn.

I'm not gonna lie. It was a disappointment. But it didn't kill my dream, it simply meant I developed some odd habits when I rode my bike. Like posting, as a rider does at a trot. Like keeping my heels down on the pedals. Stuff I learned from watching my best friend Molly when I tagged along for her riding lessons at a barn that to me, smelled like heaven.

I would eventually learn to ride--not well--as an adult. And that was the result of a gentle push from someone to whom I owe a great debt. But I digress.

The thing is, a horse-crazy girl who first rode under her initials to avoid being dismissed as a 'girl rider', will be aboard Pants on Fire.  A. R. Napravnik has shown she's got the grit, the fire and the mental and physical toughness that it takes to achieve her dream. No matter what the finish is, she's a winner in my heart.

And mothers, watch out. Your girls have a brand-new heroine.

The photo here is of yours truly with a cute blonde named Nugget. One of the tolerant horses that--with the help of a truly great instructor--taught me to ride.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How did the Chicken Cross the Road?

...in Flanders, the question may well be "How did the racing pigeon get to the starting line?"

By bike, of course! Check out the photos below. Heard them coming before I saw the man on the bike and as he passed me realized, the birds were stowed in the baskets along the back of his bike. Pigeon racing is still popular in Flanders. And you see here it's paired with the Belgium's *other* favorite sport, cycling.
In case you're wondering, the birds get to the finish line on the wing.

Just Flew Back Home...

...and boy are my arms tired!

Sorry, I love that old joke.

Almost as much as George Carlin's old fake commercials--one involving a product that "you should apply for 7 days--taking time out for meals, of course!"

And because I am in immediate danger of lapsing into a coma-like sleep, I leave you with this photo from my neighborhood. I love the raspberry pink color of that helmet. (Can you tell we're not in Belgium anymore, Toto?)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Angry, Texting, Drunk or All Three?

I have no idea what the driver was doing, but as I went gliding along on a bike on a street in Gent, a speeding car comes within inches of me...and before I can finish using the four-syllable word that springs to mind, I hear a skid and impact. The sound of two cars making contact at an intersection.

As far as I could tell, no one was hurt, and I'm glad of that. But I'm most glad that the guy wasn't so far off course as to slam into yours truly.

Next mishap: my bike slips the chain. You know the feeling, you're coasting along, you shift gears and suddenly: zzzip! You are spinning the pedals but nothing's catching. Cursing my luck I hotfoot it down to the local bike shop.  Which is closed. The next closest is a bit of a hike, but thankfully, it's mostly downhill, so at least I can hop on and make some time before it closes. But as I do, the cheap bag I bought at the local grocery store to tote my computer and other goods, breaks, sending my camera, computer and sundries scattering in the street.

It was that kind of afternoon.

News on Osama bin Laden hits Belgium

It's all over the newscasts, radio stations, papers.

I wake up to hear the news that Osama bin Laden has been killed and am asked by Belgians "What next?" A very good question, and one that will be considered in the days to come.

Now I think back to 9/11.

On that day, I was teaching at Quince Orchard High in Montgomery County. 
I reacted as a news consumer, doing what we all do in this kind of a crisis: checking in with my family-- a brother and sisters who worked in NYC. Watching and listening, rather than covering the news.

I remember scoffing at what sounded like a rumor at first. Then, when I walked down the hall into the teacher's lounge: the news was confirmed. TV's snapped on in classrooms. The principal's office at Quince Orchard High became a center for phone triage, as shaken students raced to contact parents who worked at federal buildings. Teams of school counselors were on hand to reassure the kids. Later we would learn the awful news that one of our students had lost his father in the attack on the Pentagon.

I will never forget how students kept commenting that the news footage looked just like a movie, that it couldn't be real. It looked like the special effects finale of an action movie.

And I still recall trying to comfort the kids who were most upset, at one point crouching next to the desk of a girl who was quietly sobbing, murmuring "All those people, Ms. Ryan, all those people."

Note: The photo above was snapped years after 9/11 as I walked through Manhattan.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Head Games and More...

...to come.

Had a great interview with the folks at the European Cycling Federation in Brussels and will post on that (edit the audio when I get home) soon.

One of the things that interested me most was the contention that helmet use should be voluntary, not mandatory. It's a hot-button issue everywhere, from Australia to the UK to the US, and the whole helmet question is one I think about a lot. But more on that later. A gorgeous day in Gent calls me to hit the road.

In the meantime, consider the bike portrait below.  I get the idea this bike is asking itself: does this fender make my butt look big?

Rocking the Red...Bike. In Gent.

For my last few days here in Belgium, I've rented a bike through the local b&b. It's an Oxford, for 'damen'. A girly-bike with a step-through for those evenings out when heels and skirts are called for. It's surprisingly light compared to my Gazelle at home, but then again, it doesn't protect me from the vibrations--or the jolts from cobblestones the way the Gazelle does.

Cars here cut it pretty close to cyclists but in a way that suggests not hostility, but the belief that because you're a cyclist, you can handle yourself. I don't think I'm projecting here. I see the difference between the speeding jerk who can't wait to get ahead of you, and the driver who just takes for granted you've got the space you need to keep gliding by. And many riders do just that; glide serenely through traffic, buses, trucks and trams effortlessly--even when carrying out-sized packages or taking the kids to daycare, etc.

My one fear is getting a tire struck in the tram tracks...one hazard I've been warned about time and again.

Head games: I spotted a guy in a helmet just now, a Nutcase, and well, some here would say he is one. It's not common to see people with helmets unless they're doing a hard-core workout (decked out in lycra for a ride with the boys) and I've seen only a very few women wearing helmets and most of those in Brussels where the traffic rivals DC's.

I am only skimming the surface, but seeing very few women ride as sport. When you see cyclists on road/racing/cyclocross bikes, it's almost exclusively male. I will say back home in DC, it seems that the guys who ride for sport also outnumber the women, but at least on weekends, I note a fair number of women along with the guys. Any comments on that?