Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baby On Board...

I have a friend in Belgium, Agnes, who just sent me a photo of her beautiful baby boy...on a bike. I said he looked like a natural, she replied he'd had plenty of 'pre-natal' practice, since she used her bike to get around all through her pregnancy.

In cities throughout Europe, and in my travels in the Netherlands and Belgium, it's not uncommon to see moms porting as many as three kids in a bakfiets, or even see a parent plop kids into baby bike seats and have older kids ride alongside on their bikes. Now of course, we are talking about riding a bike in Belgium, a bike-friendly country with infrastructure that would make most bike lovers here swoon--though my Belgian friends will tell you riding in Brussels can feel like taking your life in your hands.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Say It Ain't So!

Could this be the agony of defeat?

On the way back to the WTOP studios during what is now being called "The Commute From Hell" I filed live reports on, well, the commute from hell. But what made it worse was the realization that the Capital Bikeshare bike stations would likely be shut down. And sure enough....

and here's the instant video.

Winter Weather Warrior: Trying to Beat The Clock from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Capital Bikeshare Usage...and Dog Photos. Just Because.

So, how many of you have tried the Capital Bikeshare bikes? What do you think?

I was driving in from Prince George's County after filing stories on a legal settlement in the suit involving Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and the 2008 raid on his home (check with for more) when I spotted a large group of people on the CaBi bikes. I had to it the Winter Weather Warrior Contest spurring them on, or is this thing really catching on? Check for future stories.

For now, enjoy the photos of Mayor Calvo and the dogs he's adopted since losing Payton and Chase. His latest additions are Marshall and Xander. Marshall's a classic ball-obsessed Lab, Xander is the love-bug who nearly knocked the mic out of my hand trying to get some attention.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kate's 500 Update...

Goal: get in 500 miles on foot and bike by the date of the MS Walk in April.

Status: got 171.6 (yes, I count the miles in increments--like pennies, they add up.)

The idea: while doing something beneficial for me (walk, bike) I do something beneficial for a worthy cause, in this case, the MS Society.

You can help out.

Just check out my MS Walk Fundraising Page and feel free to kick in. Just as every step and push of the pedal is getting me closer to my mileage goal, every dollar kicked in gets me closer to my fundraising goal and I hope, gets us closer to making MS history.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Update: Natasha Pettigrew

This week, as I covered a news conference in Prince George's County regarding the police response to a spate of murders, I had a chance to talk with newly-elected State's Attorney for Prince George's, Angela Alsobrooks.

I asked her whether there will be charges filed in the September death of cyclist and Green Party candidate Natasha Pettigrew. Alsobrooks explained to me that the the investigation is not yet complete. I asked if the investigation is taking an unusually long amount of time, and was told no, it's not uncommon for the crash reconstruction unit investigations to take 6 months or more.

When there's a new development, be sure to check with WTOP 103.5 fm and WTOP.COM and on this blog.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Capital BikeShare: One Tourist Reviews DC by Bike

Hey DC drivers: you're pretty cool!

At least one tourist, Elise, from Greenville, South Carolina says so. She was touring DC by Capital Bikeshare bike, and says aside from a few honks, sightseeing by bike was a great experience. Even on a cold, blustery January day.

I caught up with her and her family in front of the White House.

A Tourist in DC on Touring by Bike from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Not Bikey, But Fun: Introducing Ivy Rose

Go ahead, call them a 'chick band'...the members of Ivy Rose, four young women from the Washington, DC area, will just laugh.
Martina San Diego, lead vocalist--and still in high school-- explains "We use it to our advantage basically, we give them a surprise, one they're not expecting." Drummer Isabelle De Leon who attends the University of Maryland, says once the music starts, even those who may have dismissed the teenagers as 'just another chick band' end up saying :"Wow, they're actually pretty good'. "
And the band, made up of sisters Isabelle, Sarah and Kristine De Leon  of Gaithersburg, and sister-at-heart Martina San Diego, who attends school in  Fairfax County, are better than pretty good. They won a battle of the bands to open for Weezer at the University of Maryland where they got a warm reception. But they're also interested in doing good. So, with help from their parents, they formed Rock for Scholars, a benefit program to raise money for student scholarships at Georgetown Visitation.
Rock for Scholars also helps pump money into the school's arts program. Asked what prompted that, the De Leon sisters explain they wanted to give back to the school that gave so much to them. Isabelle graduated two years ago, and Sarah, 17 is a senior there. Mom--and manager--Lynn De Leon adds that giving back is something that is very important to the family. "At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, what have I done?"
At rehearsal at Georgetown Visitation, Headmaster Dan Kerns explained that the girls really are making a difference with their music. "We did this last year, and it was very successful, and this is another opportunity for the girls to give back to the community in terms of their talent."
Asked about musical influences, the girls mention bands like The Cranberries. Isabelle says they are really more 'alternative' than straight-ahead rock'n'roll, but when she got behind the drum set, at a recent rehearsal, she demonstrated with a brief solo why some listeners leave a concert blown away.
You can find out more about Ivy Rose at

Here's Isabelle De Leon on drums:

Here's the first version of the story that ran on WTOP:

And here's the second version of the story on Ivy Rose and Rock for Scholars:

And here's a brief video of the girls in rehearsal.

Ivy Rose in Rehearsal for Rock for Scholars from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

WTOP Coverage: Judge Issues Sentence in Death of Stanton Miller

Here are the broadcast reports filed for WTOP as they aired, each one containing slightly different 'takes' on the story, so the details vary from one piece to another.

The hearing started at 1:30pm on Friday January 14, and didn't end until more than four hours later. I've covered a lot of court cases in my time at WTOP, this one was extraordinary in that the turnout was very, very large and emotions boiled over to the point where the judge had to call for order in the court. 

Here is the second version filed:

This is the third version filed:

And this is the final version filed:

Judge Sentences Man in the Death of Stanton Miller

Stanton Miller, 48, was killed as he cycled home along Ridge Road in Germantown last June.

Six months later, 34 year old Quinzy Fraser, the man behind the wheel of the SUV that killed Miller, was sentenced after entering a guilty plea to a single count of manslaughter by motor vehicle.

The courtroom--Courtroom 1 in Montgomery County's Circuit Court house-- is often used for jury selection when a large jury pool is called. Or it's reserved for cases where a large turnout is expected. I have covered a number of high profile cases in Montgomery County over two decades. I have never seen something quite like this.

The rows of seats easily hold 250 people. The courtroom was filled to standing-room-only. There were friends and family there for both men. One group was representing the man who was facing a ten year jail term, one group was representing a man who--in the words of his brother--was gone, suddenly gone.

For now I'll direct you to WTOP 103.5 fm where you can hear the stories: 4 versions. And to the WTOP website where I filed a written account. I will post the audio to this site after noon on Saturday.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Catching Up...Because Sometimes I Fall Behind

  • WABA's Shane Farthing, Executive Director, writes that the legislation his group looks to support in the Maryland General Assembly session focuses on toughening the state's vehicular manslaughter laws. And in Virginia, WABA hopes to see the '3-foot' bill passed, the one that requires drivers to give cyclists a 3-foot buffer on the roads. 

  • WABA's Bike Ambassador Daniel Hoagland passes this along: DC Council member Phil Mendelson's hearing on enforcement of pedestrian-bicycle safety in the District of Columbia is set for 12 noon, February 4th. The hearing will be in the John A Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 412.

  • Winter Weather Warriors: Ladies, you have your work cut out for you. Looking at the leader board,  I have to go waaaay down the list before I see a woman's name. Hey, let me tell you, these bikes can easily be ridden in a skirt, nothing holding us back there! Fashionistas, send your photos to me here, and represent! The leader with 69 trips is Michael Hurley. Impressive! When does he sleep? Seriously Michael: when do you sleep? And is it possible to catch up to Michael's performance?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bike Legislation: One Group's To-Do List for Legislators...

Maryland's General Assembly Session kicked off on Wednesday.

Take a look at Bike Maryland's legislative agenda

What do you see that you like/don't like? What would you suggest?

What's going on where you live? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Wheels to Go: In Snow...the video

I tried to get footage on the fly, but until I get a better rig for the Flipcam, (or surrender and go to the duct tape) I'll hold off on trying to bike and shoot video. I'm still learning the visual medium--as will be demonstrated. If you've wondered what it might be like to go in the snow, here's a small sample. And yes, rocking the waterproof pants may destroy my chances of ever being referred to as a fashionista, still, I was eternally grateful for them. You'll see why...

Two Wheels To Go: In Snow! from kate ryan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kate's 500....

Just shy of 130 miles...

Still miles to go before I sleep...(or get to that first 500)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Note to self...

Never, never, never take for granted that the windless evening you're enjoying  on a short walk will stay that way.

Still, the crescent moon was pretty to look at as feeling left my fingers while I got in my Weather Warrior ride, brief as it was.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Riding Responsibly in the Frosty Air...

Yesterday, I wish I had cloned myself or simply timed my day more effectively. As it was, I attended a school event that I am writing up for this coming week. That meant I missed WABA's New Year's Resolution Ride. So here's the report from Shane Farthing himself:

I'll be curious to see how this effort fares. Already I've seen comments in the blogosphere of cyclists who feel they're being blamed for the actions of others, etc.

I understand the frustration, but that reminds me of my days in a classroom when my (9th grade) students would complain about how I insisted on some basics: no cheating, no rudeness. Of course I'd get the "..but other people do it" argument, and lots of questions like "But why should we do x if other people won't?"

I'm grateful that for me the answer to that question is: because what I do matters most of all, to me. I mean, why wouldn't I want to be able to say that I behave in a way that --when I see it in others--I admire?

Sure, I screw up, but why not make the effort and succeed in small ways? I consider it payoff enough when a motorist shows me courtesy, when we can exchange a smile, a nod, a thumbs-up. We live in a community that I would like to see become better, safer, warmer.

Two sets of lyrics come to mind: Joan Armatrading's somewhat guarded, "Kind words and a real good heart, don't mean you get respect." And my imagined response from Elvis Costello in the song, "What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?"

Yeah, I know. I'm such a sap.

Winter Weather Warrior...Til It Hurts...


Saturday's cold weather ride was a real challenge. It wasn't the snow that caused me trouble, it was the whipping wind that made my commitment to staying active on the bike all winter long seem, well, masochistic.

My body was warm, even my toes were fine in my boots. It was the fingers. Just the few moments it took to do things like fish keys out to unlock a bike left my fingers burning with the bite that only this kind of bitter cold can produce.

And that wind actually blew me sideways on the bike. It made me laugh, because it's so, well, silly. Here you are pushing forward, yet moving sideways. I will say when I had the wind at my back, it was nice getting a push.

Still, I got my rides in for a total of 14 miles today, and that puts me at a grand total of 125.

How about you?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Winter Warrior Progress and Road Rules...

Ok, in my quest to keep up my mileage, and stick to my  "Perfect Attendance" (daily ride goal)  on a Capital Bikeshare bike, I took a bike out for a spin.

So I was at a CaBi stand when the bikeshare van came rolling up. It was @ 9:30pm and I couldn't help asking: has the Winter Warrior Contest boosted ridership? It seems to me these bikes are getting some serious use.

Sure enough, one of the staffers loading bikes at the dock said yes, it seems that ridership is up, particularly at night. Interesting. What about you? What do you think of these bikes? Have you tried them? Would you like to? If not, why not?

Oh, and my mileage total is now: 111.7 miles.

Rolling Responsibly...

Tomorrow the Washington Area Bicyclist Association holds its Resolution to Ride Responsibly event. Everyone study up on their rules of the road?

Check out WABA Bike Ambassador Daniel Hoagland's piece on what riding responsibly means---and the reaction you just might get! I'm pleased to say I've had a similar experience. I was in a bike lane at an intersection, the driver was in the lane to my left.  I wanted to avoid a 'right hook', so made eye contact to let the driver know I'd be heading through the intersection and they nodded, with a thumbs-up.  Nice when our positive behavior has an effect, but even if you don't get a good reaction, keep in mind: following those road rules could keep you safer out there. And you could be building goodwill for other cyclists while you're at it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coincidence? I think not!

WTOP. That's where I work. And when you listen, chances are you're picking it up on 103.5fm. Well, today, as I put in a few miles towards my goal of 500 miles by April, I hit the 103.5 mile mark. Spooky, huh?

Actually, what's a little scary is realizing that April will be here before I know it, and doing the math, I realize I need to boost the daily mileage and/or bank a few sets of double digit rides and walks to make sure I meet that goal. 

Why the goal? Yes, health is part of the equation, but not just my own health. I've set that goal for myself as part of a fundraising effort for the National Capital Area's MS Society. I'll be taking part in their walk here in DC on April 16th. You can donate here or you can join and walk too! 

*Sorry, my boss would be very upset if I didn't remind you that you can also pick up WTOP on 107.7 and 103.9. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kate's 500 Update...

Thanks to the meet-up with friends last night, I got another 10 miles in on the bike so the Kate's 500 total has now topped 100 miles.

Only 400 more to go before April 16th...

Readers Respond: Cold Weather Tips from NoRacer

Got a response on cold-weather commuting from NoRacer who has detailed his commute and who can be found on Facebook here:

So what does he do to keep warm on his--very impressive--commute? Here's his very specific list of what to wear given differing weather conditions. No detail is left uncovered. Get it? Uncovered? Sometimes I crack myself up.

But seriously, I'll give him the award for Most Creative Re-Use for Plastic Grocery Bags. Check the list and you'll see what I mean.

Thanks, NoRacer, and stay safe out there.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Riding Responsibly...Wish Others Would? Do You? Will You?

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is holding an event so that riders can, um, ride the ride and not just talk the talk on bike safety. Insisting that safety is everyone's responsibility, they're hosting a weekend ride tied to their Resolution to Ride Responsibly campaign. Check it out.

Got a pet peeve? (I'm talking @ other cyclists, not cars here). Mine is cyclists who--especially on trails--race along, come alongside at my rear wheel nice and close before passing without uttering a word.* Sorry, you might be the best bike-handler on the planet, but if I don't know you are there, and do something unexpected, we both end up in a heap. I've seen it happen, and it can be ugly. So I can see where pedestrians who--like it or not folks--share the trails with us, end up trash-talking all cyclists.

I have also had cyclists come up behind me at a red light--not a stop sign, a red light--who clearly had  no intention of stopping. Yup, almost got rear-ended by 'one of my own'. Folks, we owe it to each other to do what we can to stake our place on the roads, and one way of doing that is following the rules. What's that hokey phrase? Be the change you want to be?

Ok, now that I've sounded like your mom/ high school driver's ed instructor/media nanny, ride on. Ride safe. And have fun, cause it really is a blast, isn't it?

*or using a bell.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kate's 500 Update...the Winter Weather Warrior and Walk MS Mash-Up

If you've been following this blog, you know that before the New Year rolled around, I'd resolved to cover 500 miles by foot and/or by bike, by April 16th. That's the date of Walk MS 2011, the National Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser here in Washington, DC. I'll be taking part in that event. Then I'll cover another 500 by June, when Bike MS events will be held in the region. 

Then along came Capital BikeShare's Winter Weather Warrior  Contest. That's the contest that challenges Washingtonians to show certain White House occupants that Washingtonians are not winter weather wimps. 

So in the spirit of combining personal challenges --for a good cause--I've created a civic mash-up. I've decided to use that Winter Weather Warrior Contest as a mileage booster. I'm shooting for the "Perfect Attendance Category", which means I'd have to use one of those bikes every day throughout the contest. It's not about the contest, but what the contest can do to help me achieve my goal for the National MS Society. See, this way, I get the extra incentive to get out there, even on those bitter days. So I get some needed mileage in and I get to demonstrate my flinty toughness, all while raising money for the National MS Society. 

Since I started tracking my mileage, I've covered 88.6 miles. A modest start, but I'll get there. How do I know? Because I said I would here in cyberspace. And we all know cyberspace is forever. 

I'll be tweeting the mileage so you can keep track. And if you want to kick in, I've got just the place for you: my WalkMS 2011 website. Or sign up yourself, and I'll see you in April!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Meet the Cyclists: Winter Weather Tips

New Year's Eve, I spent part of my day accosting random cyclists to do the story "WinterBikes". The idea initially was to talk to folks who might be participating in the Capital Bikeshare's Winter Weather Warrior Contest. Problem: after hanging around Bikeshare stations, I came up with zero Capital Bikeshare riders. What to do? Change the focus---talk to cyclists who ride through the winter and see how they fend off the cold.

Meet the very nice cyclists who were open to being interviewed and photographed for my WTOP story. So from the "Wait! There's More!" file...interviews and photos of: Charles Homans, Kamilah Bennett and Joe Stratton. Many thanks to them for letting themselves be interrupted as they went about their days.

Winter Weather Warriors: the Unofficial Riders

Happy New Year!

On a practically balmy New Year's Eve, I went looking for folks who say they intend to be Winter Weather Warriors--those who'd be taking part in the Capital Bikeshare program's contest to encourage riders to keep on rolling right through the region's roughest weather. From January 1st to February 28th.

So I did what every good reporter does. I went looking for users by staking out Capital Bikeshare stations, microphone at the ready. But Capital Bikeshare users are a busy lot. They don't spend their time hanging around bike stations, they take the bikes and get to where they're going. I went to three different stations...finally I headed to the one at R and 14th Streets NW. I figured it would be a likely spot. And in a way, I was right. It's well-used. Nearly all the bikes were in out. There were only 5 at the station, out of 15 docks. So I waited. And waited. And deadline looming, I shifted gears.

I decided I'd talk to any bicycle rider about how they tackle winter riding. Check for my web story. Tune in to WTOP 103.5 fm to hear the stories that I filed for the station. And check back to this site later, to hear the extended interviews.