Photo via Flickr photographer Evocateur.

It’s almost time again for the The Fremont Solstice Cyclists ride. The Painted Cyclists have long been a fixture of the Fremont Solstice Parade – an event created and produced by the Fremont Arts Council. The parade is a fantastic and whimsical celebration of the return of the sun, complete with larger than life puppets, floats, and street performers.

The Painted Cyclists engage and entertain the crowd with our boldness, bareness and enthusiasm. Join us as we welcome summer to Seattle with an outpouring of artistic expression, fossil fuel free travel and fun.

LOCATION:

Rendezvous at the start of the parade route – corner of 3rd Ave NW and NW 36th St – at 11:45am, painted and ready to kick off the parade!

TIMELINE:

7:00-10:30 Group paint party.

10:30-11:00 Clean up and organize for ride.

11:00-11:45 Ride to parade.

11:45-12:00 Enter the parade route (after 12:00, don’t try to join up).

PARADE TIME & DETAILS:

Rendezvous at the start of the parade route – corner of 3rd Ave NW and NW 36th St – at 11:45am, painted and ready to kick off the parade!

Loop back through the parade route as often as you like, always keeping ahead of the parade, and always keeping to the right side of the street.

PAINTING PARTIES:

Lots of people organize their own painting parties. Smaller groups can be fun. If you are willing to share it with “new friends”, please post to SolCycles@yahoogroups.com. Make sure you get to the parade start on time; joining after that is difficult and dangerous.

MAIN PAINTING PARTY:

In 2012, the main painting party will be at the Old Ballard Library, 5711 24th Ave NW, Seattle.

Please bring $10 ($15 if you want to share paint) to pay your share of the cost of renting and outfitting the site.

Please arrive early; it gets crowded towards the end. Get painted, then move outside to make space for others, unless you are helping others get painted.

Shared paint and paint brushes will be available (though the selection may be thin towards the end). Get some paint in a small container and move away from the table to paint up. Bring the left-overs back to the central table and get your next color.

Please clean up your paint area when you’re done. Bring any usable left-over paint to the central table and throw the rest away.

You can leave stuff at the paint party, but it won’t be available till the clean-up party on Sunday, and its security isn’t guaranteed (though the building will be locked).

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Groups of identically clad gents -- decked out in gray Acne suits and white Converse sneakers -- are set to bicycle the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, handing out copies of the website's "Mr. Porter Post" publication along the way.

If your daily commute across Los Angeles Wednesday (or Thursday) finds you crossing paths with a well-heeled, two-wheeled flash mob, it’s not a crowd scene dream sequence being shot for a Pee-wee Herman movie, it’s a cross-promotional awareness campaign between USA Network’s legal drama “Suits” (which kicks off its second season June 14) and the men’s luxury shopping site Mr. Porter.

Groups of identically clad gents — decked out in gray Acne suits and white Converse sneakers — are set to bicycle the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday, handing out copies of the website’s “Mr. Porter Post” publication along the way. For anyone unfamiliar with the show, the bicycle part of the equation is a nod to “Suits'” bike-riding, suit-wearing Mike Ross character (played by Patrick J. Adams).

The velo fellows kicked off the promotion Tuesday in  New York City (where the TV show is set and Mr. Porter’s U.S. offices are located) with the rolling panache mob taking to the streets and a fashion show of “Suits”-inspired looks curated by the Mr. Porter team on the High Line.

As part of the promotion, Mr. Porter has a dedicated “Suits and Style” web page that can be found here. As for the second season of “Suits,” that can be found on your local USA Network channel starting Thursday at 10 p.m./9 Central.

When asked to comment Mr. Herman said "I already knew that. Now stop copying me!".

While this whole thing seems completely pretentious, the world certainly needs more people on bicycles. If this contributes to making bicycles more mainstream in America that’s a good thing.

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An example of Bellinghamster ingenuity. This is one of the two handmade Swing Bikes I spied while waiting for the ferry back to the mainland from Lopez Island. Could this guy be Jimmy Osmond?

What started as a simple post about a couple of handmade Swing Bikes I saw on Lopez Island has taken on a life of its own. These are much more than just funny-looking handcrafted cycles. Swing Bikes pivot, allowing the front and rear wheels to take different paths, not unlike hook-&-ladder fire trucks with independent front and rear steering.

Invented by Ralph Belden of Cascade Locks, Oregon, USA sometime in the 1960s, the Swing Bike was granted a U.S. Patent in 1974 and, after further development and prototyping, went into production in Taiwan and was distributed “world wide” in late 1975. Advertised on the Donny and Marie Osmond TV Show, the Swing Bike became linked both in live action, radio and in print with the youngest Osmond entertainer, Jimmy Osmond. As the brochure stated, “With SWING BIKE, you can invent wacky maneuvers which leave everyone else bug-eyed in amazement!” The bike sold for $98.50 in 1975, $119.00 in 1976, and was back down to $99.00 in 1978. This fun would continue until around 1978 or 1979.

Jimmy Osmond was the Swing Bike's official spokesman in the 1970s.

RARE Jimmy Osmond SWING BIKE UTAH RADIO SPOTS.

While doing research on the Swing Bike I found this vinyl record for sale on E-Bay. Here’s the seller’s description.

I found Jimmy Osmond of the famous Osmond Brothers doing an ad for SWING BIKE out of Logan, Utah. I purchased this 45 from a man who bought out the remaining unused stock of bicycles, brochures and ephemera from the Logan Utah business when it closed it’s doors. A side has Jimmie singing the jingle, Flip side has Jimmy doing a 60 second radio spot, plus 1:50 third track instrumental of the Swing Bike Theme. Record is NM in it’s original plain white sleeve. Trace of storage wear to labels. You’re not going to find a better example than this one.

Here's another Swing Bike, handmade in Bellingham, Washington.

You can see how the frame pivots, essentially able to fold in half. This one is geared.

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This is where Mike Wang's life was taken by a hit-and-run-driver.

UPDATE AT 3:04 P.M.: According to a statement of  probable cause released this afternoon by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, police began focusing on the suspect, Garcia-Reyes, in April. Police said his silver 2002 Chevrolet Suburban matched the description of the vehicle that struck Wang.

The affidavit says police interviewed Garcia-Reyes at his home on Wednesday and he said he was involved in the collision and fled the scene.

A judge this afternoon found probable cause to hold Garcia-Reyes on felony hit and run and set bail at $500,000.

Seattle police this morning announced the arrest of a suspect in the fatal hit-and-run accident that killed photographer Michael Wang last July.

Wang, 44, a photographer at PATH, a global health nonprofit in Seattle, was headed north on Dexter Avenue North in Seattle shortly before 4 p.m. July 28 when he was struck by an SUV that was making a left turn onto Thomas Street, police said. The driver of the vehicle — which was described as a mid-1990s to mid-2000s beige to brown colored American-made SUV, possibly with tinted windows and a chrome roof rack — fled from the scene.

The suspect, Erlin Garcia-Reyes, 28, of Normandy Park, was recently arrested and charged in King County District Court in an unrelated case of hit-and-run driving, according to court documents.

In that case, Garcia-Reyes was a passenger in a vehicle that drove into the parking lot of the 76 gas station at 10500 Greenwood Ave. N. on Sunday. Instead of pulling straight into a parking stall, the vehicle went over the curb, striking the store’s front window and glass door, charging documents say.

The driver jumped into the vehicle’s back seat and Garcia -Reyes got into the driver’s seat and drove away from the scene, according to the court documents. Police and prosecutors say the incident was caught on the gas station’s video surveillance.

According to court documents, Garcia-Reyes then went to his girlfriend’s home, called 911 and reported his vehicle stolen. The unoccupied vehicle was located at an apartment complex in the 10300 block of Fremont Ave. N., the documents say.

Garcia-Reyes was charged in that case with hit and run and false reporting on Monday.

During a news conference this morning at Seattle police headquarters, police said detectives interviewed Garcia-Reyes on Wednesday and arrested him for investigation of felony hit and run in connection with the death of Wang. Police declined to say how detectives connected Garcia-Reyes to the fatal accident. They also did not discuss Sunday’s hit and run allegedly involving Garcia-Reyes.

Wang had commuted by bicycle to his Shoreline home for several years, according to his wife Claire Allen. He is also survived by two children: Walter, 12, and Sylvie, 9.

Michael Wang

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Chris of Crank, a terrific Portland bike shop,wearing his Sheila Moon cyclocross racing suit.

Just got back from a weekend in Portland, the bicycle capital of North America. While eating breakfast with my girlfriend at Crema Bakery and Cafe, I saw this racer dude riding by in the most visually striking body suit. Of course I accosted him and forced him to stand in front of this here wall so I could share his visage with you.

Turns out Chris is one of the owners of Crank, a terrific southeast Portland bike shop. The racing suit was originally made for the Sheila Moon cyclocross racing team. This gives me a whole new appreciation for what Sheila Moon is capable of and I’ll definitely be looking forward to doing an article about her creations soon.

Chris races for Team Cránk.

Team Cránk started in August 2011 when a group of local Portland-area cyclists got together and decided to form a team with a focus on racing, community service, and supporting new racers. Since we started, our teammates have raced 145 times at Oregon Bicycle Racing Association events around the state.

The motto of Team Cránk is Anyone Can. Our purpose as a team and community of riders is to make it easier for anyone to ride bicycles, for anyone to win, for anyone to join, for anyone to help out. Our focus is not just on racing bikes, though it is a major element of what brings us together. Since our team’s inception in August 2011, we have held fundraisers and events supporting organizations like Walk!Bike!Vote! and Bike Train PDX.

We aim to catalyze involvement with efforts that make lives better, with a particular interest in youth. Our community partnerships with local school districts and after school programs like Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) provide us with access to interested youth, while leaders within the team provide coaching and program support.

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I saw this today on the west side of Seattle’s Fremont Bridge on Dexter Ave. Maybe it’s because I’m old or just stupid, but it took me a while to figure out what the text was saying. Not “See you eighteenr”? If people who text while driving understand it, then I fully support it.

Here’s a clip from Woody Allen’s movie “Take the Money and Run” that shows why clarity is important.

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BoltBus arrives and departs at 5th and King St. in Seattle's International District and in Portland at 548 SW Salmon.

Discount regional bus line BoltBus, began nonstop Seattle-Portland service on May 17, and is about to add another line from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. on May 31. There are 6 runs per day each way between Seattle-Portland, and 4 runs per day each way between Seattle-Vancouver, from Fifth Avenue South next to Seattle’s International District/Chinatown transit station.

Their pricing structure is variable dependent upon travel date and time. Apparently there are a few tickets available for as low as $1, but most fares are in the area between $10-$13. BoltBus started on the East Coast as a partnership of Greyhound and Peter Pan Bus Lines, and chose the Northwest as its second region.

Galfriend and I have been traveling back and forth between Seattle and Portland every week via Amtrak with bike for more than 2 months. We love Amtrak, but the typical round-trip ticket is around $80. We read about BoltBus and its cheap fares in the local press and decided to check it out. Our interest is in traveling with bicycles, so that’s an important factor in our review.

For price comparison we chose a departure date from Seattle of Saturday 6/2/12 and a return date from Portland of Sunday 6/3/12. BoltBus departs Seattle at 8:30 AM and departs Portland at 6 PM. Amtrak departs Seattle at 7:30 AM and departs Portland at 6:15 PM. Travel times are similar. Bolt Bus is subject to freeway traffic and Amtrak subject to track construction and obstacles.

BoltBus vs. Amtrak travel between Seattle and Portland with bicycle

BoltBusAmtrak Cascades
Round-trip passenger cost$32$72
Additional round-trip cost for bike$0$10
Bike accommodationsunder bus with luggagebike hooks in baggage car
# of bike spaces per runup to 3 depending on space
(plans for additional exterior 3-bike rack)
6 hooks
(plans for 6 additional hooks)
Ability to reserve bike space in advance?NoYes

The price difference for this run was $82 for Amtrak vs. $32 for BoltBus. What are the plusses and minuses associated with that $50 difference? Clearly, saving $50 will be an incentive for using BoltBus.

Here are a few negatives to consider. Currently you can’t reserve a bike space when you reserve your passenger ticket. Bike spaces are on a first-come basis at departure and there’s room for maybe 3 mixed in with luggage underneath the bus. Let’s say 4 people have booked tickets and show up with their bikes. One of those people will not be able to take their bike and will be left sitting alone on the curb. If 6 or more passengers show up with bikes there will be mayhem.

BoltBus needs to add bikes to their online reservations form just like Amtrak currently does, so passengers are not wondering if they’re going to be able to travel with their bike, or so they can make other plans. Personally, I think charging a nominal fee of even $1-$2 for the bike is a good way of reserving that space. This will keep people without bikes from checking the box and reserving the space by accident or “just because”.

BoltBus General Manager, David Hall has been very interested in accommodating passengers with bicycles. “I’m a long time recreational biker and that is one of the reasons we allow them” says Hall. However, he acknowledges that there may be limitations. He’s currently looking into adding a rack for the front of each bus so it can accommodate an additional 3 bikes.

In my experience, Greyhound buses typically require bikes to be boxed. BoltBus does not. In placing my galfriend’s bike in the luggage compartment I took care to position it so that it was unlikely to be accidentally damaged by luggage that could be placed on top of it. That’s the passenger’s responsibility and liability.

In placing my galfriend's bike in the luggage compartment I took care to position it so that it was unlikely to be accidentally damaged by luggage that could be placed on top of it. That's the passenger's responsibility and liability.

Amtrak currently has 6 bike hooks in the baggage car on its Cascade runs. Coast Starlight runs do not have bike hooks in the baggage car, and require the bike to be boxed. Should you need to take a train without bike hooks or if bike hooks are full, Amtrak has its own large bike boxes that can fit a bike with wheels attached. Only pedals must be removed and handlebars turned. This will require a pedal and headset wrench. Park Tool makes a lightweight combo wrench that’s perfect for this task. The Amtrak boxes are $15, but stations will often give you a free recycled box if you ask. These boxes are much larger than the bike boxes manufacturers use to ship disassembled bikes in. While boxing a bike is more of a hassle than simply hanging it from a hook, it’s not a catastrophic affair as long as you’ve got a wrench. Get to the station early. Amtrak waits for no one.

Back in April I wrote to Amtrak’s Dan Engstrom, “I think there need to be more bike hooks on the Cascade run. The current 6 have been filling up. I’ve never seen so much luggage in the baggage car that having 12 hooks would interfere with luggage. Being able to hang the bike as opposed to boxing it is a terrific way to travel.” Amtrak’s Dan Engstrom replied “We know and will be expanding to 12.” but didn’t say when. If you’re concerned that your bike may be scratched in the BoltBus luggage compartment or are averse to putting it on an exterior rack that may be installed in the future, then paying the additional $50 and taking Amtrak is for you.

50 comfy leather seats on each BoltBus. Galfriend's bus arrived about 15 minutes early.

Here are a few of the BoltBus amenities.

  • More legroom: we’ve taken a standard coach configuration and removed seats. This adds about three extra inches of legroom per seat.
  • Internet: Our buses are equipped with WiFi hot spots. This technology is new, and there are spots on the trip where the service may be unavailable. We also do not advise downloading large files, as the speed will be relatively slow. The WiFi service is free of charge…enjoy.
  • Power plugs-ins: Located throughout the coach are standard 110-volt plug-ins. To make the trip more enjoyable, plug in your laptops, iPods and portable DVD players, and enjoy yourself.
  • Standard amenities: restroom, air-conditioned, panoramic views, the normal coach accoutrements.

Here are a few of the Amtrak amenities.

  • Food car featuring beer and mixed drinks.
  • Internet: The WiFi service is free of charge.
  • Power plugs-ins: Located throughout the coach are standard 110-volt plug-ins. To make the trip more enjoyable, plug in your laptops, iPods and portable DVD players, and enjoy yourself.
  • Ability to walk around: People with small children particularly benefit from this. Toddlers like to march up and down the aisles of the whole train for the entire trip. People often stand between cars to make cell phone calls.
  • Beautiful scenic route: route takes you along south Puget Sound, and Willamette River.

If you travel frequently between Seattle and Portland or are traveling with family members, the $ savings from using BoltBus can quickly add up. My 18 and 21 year old sons love visiting Portland with bikes. $50 is a lot of money to them and many of their friends. They’re excited about BoltBus. Conversely, if you’re an occasional traveler on this route the additional $50 for traveling Amtrak will give you more of a first-class travel experience. By the way, I recently asked what the main differences were between traveling Amtrak with a coach ticket vs. a more expensive business class ticket and was told that other than the color of the seats, there wasn’t much difference.

I’m thrilled that there are more options available for travelers with bicycles. It’ll be interesting to see how BoltBus and Amtrak compete for this market segment.

Unlike BoltBus, current Greyhound bus policy says “bicycles, skis and ski poles must be packed in wood, canvas or other substantial container, and securely fastened”. That basically means bikes must be boxed. A couple years ago I got stranded on the Oregon Coast with my bicycle due to a knee injury. I could catch a bus in one town, but couldn’t get a bike box in that town. I ended up hitchhiking back to Eugene, Oregon with my bike. I’m looking forward to the day when intermodal bike/bus transportation is a real option nationally, and the bicycle is considered as more than just a toy. Amtrak Cascades run and BoltBus are moving in the right direction.

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Editor’s Note: I grew up in NYC and left in 1984 in part because of the declining quality of life. I now live in Seattle, which is considered a progressive city. One thing Seattle is known for is its endless dithering public process for building public infrastructure or transportation projects. This may be part of a liberal-minded ideology that consensus is best, and every citizen must be happy with the outcome or the process is bad. This consensus-driven approach has given great power to people who want to stop projects for no better reason than NIMBY-ism (not in my backyard) and their fear of change. I’ve witnessed this first-hand on seemingly small traffic safety projects in my own neighborhood where individuals who grew up in the neighborhood felt that non-natives were taking over THEIR neighborhood and they weren’t going to stand for it — using legal process, vandalism, and even violence to undermine progressive projects. It’s certainly much easier to do nothing than to create something new.

New Yorkers are not shy about expressing negative opinions, and yet somehow innovative forward-thinking projects like this bike-share are happening. I’m not convinced this kind of thing could happen in Seattle in a timely fashion. NYC has always been about change, and it’s accepted as a fact of life. As we used to say “like it or lump it!”.

Having gotten involved in Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club politics last year, I also witnessed a shocking unwillingness on their part to get in front of change. Change is needed, and change is coming. Sometimes it takes new blood, and new leadership. It always takes courage and determination. If a massive bike share program can be established in a difficult environment like NYC, surely Seattle can also think big and overcome its tendency for inertia and fear of change. Seattle, you’re a big city now. Lead the way for a change.

THIS summer the city’s Department of Transportation inaugurates a new bike-share program. People who live and work in New York will be able to travel quickly and cheaply between many neighborhoods. This is major. It will make New Yorkers rethink their city and rewrite the mental maps we use to decide what is convenient, what is possible. Parks, restaurants and friends who once seemed beyond plausible commuting distance on public transportation will seem a lot closer. The possibilities aren’t limitless, but the change will be pretty impressive.

I’ve used a bike to get around New York for decades. There’s an exhilaration you get from self-propelled transportation — skateboarding, in-line skating and walking as well as biking; New York has good public transportation, but you just don’t get the kind of rush I’m talking about on a bus or subway train. I got hooked on biking because it’s a pleasure, not because biking lowers my carbon footprint, improves my health or brings me into contact with different parts of the city and new adventures. But it does all these things, too — and sometimes makes us a little self-satisfied for it; still, the reward is emotional gratification, which trumps reason, as it often does.

More than 200 cities around the world have bike-share programs. We’re not the first, but ours will be one of the largest systems. The program will start with 420 stations spread through the lower half of Manhattan, Long Island City and much of western Brooklyn; eventually more than 10,000 bikes will be available. It will cost just under $10 for a day’s rental. The charge includes unlimited rides during a 24-hour period, as long as each ride is under 30 minutes. So, for example, I could ride from Chelsea to the Lower East Side, from there to food shopping, later to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and after that, home. This system is not geared for leisurely rides up to the George Washington Bridge or to Coney Island. This is for getting around. (Click here to read the full article).

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Mighty Mouse

by Eric Shalit on May 25, 2012

Who's zoomin'who?

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Price of gas comes down

by Eric Shalit on May 25, 2012

By Robert Ariail / The State (Columbia, S.C.) (June 4, 2008)

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