Archive for September, 2010
I made this picture and only later discovered I had stopped right in front of the Minnesota Zen Center.
Click here for a rare video of Suzuki Roshi.
In Minneapolis, I visited Cafe Imports — a green coffee trading company — and was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in a cupping of Brazilian, Peruvian, Indonesian, and Nicaraguan coffees. I also sampled a complex Kenyan auction lot coffee brewed both in a Hario pour-over and in a Clover.
Later, while out riding in the rain, I visited the Dunn Bros. Coffee shop that adjoins Calhoun Cycle, which I wrote about here.
At Dunn Bros., the ambiance was cozy and bright — a perfect spot to enjoy a coffee. The espresso was okay. I probably should have ordered a latte or something because they don’t do a true espresso.
So what is a true espresso? Read the rest of this entry »
Minneapolis shares something with my beloved Marin County.
Each is one of the four select communities chosen to be part of the NTPP (Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Project), a $100 million federal program to test how infrastructure improvements can increase rates of bicycling and walking.
I was in Minneapolis just briefly, but I still picked up a strong bicycle culture (Bicycling Magazine named it the most bike-friendly city in the country).
I was a bit confused, however, by some of the signage and rules. The bike path circling the Lake is one-way (note the picture above)!
This is great for recreational use, but for transportation purposes it makes it less useful as a bike boulevard or arterial.
I had hoped to spend a day and a half exploring Minneapolis by bike. But the severe weather (some areas of Minnesota received 10″ of rain over the two-day period) partially quashed those plans.
Nonetheless, I overcame my inertia (and lack of full rain gear) to still manage some wet weather explorations on the new Brompton.
My Brompton was inspected by TSA baggage handlers (they left their dreaded, yet polite calling card).
Whether it was the result of a poor re-packing job by TSA Screener #101906 I cannot say, but the spokes and fender stays of the front wheel emerged a little unhappy after the 3.5 hour San Francisco-to-Minneapolis flight.
My friend in Minneapolis just happens to lives about 2 miles away from Calhoun Cycle, a local Brompton dealer. I rode over in a pouring rainstorm and Kody (pictured above) trued the wheel and straightened the bent fender stay.
The cost: $5!
The place exudes a pleasant alternative transportation, indie bike shop vibe. Plus, it’s connected through a common wall opening to a Dunn Brothers Coffee house (kind of a mid-western Peet’s, but with on-site roasting).
Here’s Calhoun Cycle’s philosophy (from their website):
We think spinning on a bike is a great way to physical, emotional and spiritual fitness. Reducing pollution, road congestion and parking stress are icing on the cake. The bicycles and accessories we sell are designed to help you be successful cyclists, whether you’re touring Nepal or bopping around the corner for milk.
I vowed my next bike would be a folding bike. A planned short trip to Minneapolis proved to be the trigger.
I plan to have more notes and photos on the comparison and which one I ultimately chose and why. (Although these images of the Brompton packed for airline travel are a giveaway.)
A quick bike ride up the mountain to Bon Tempe Lake to recalibrate mind/body.
A native Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) — one of my favorite trees with its curious exfoliating bark.
I recently did some exploring around the Golden Gate Bridge (and down by The Warming Hut).
This view is from the western side of the bridge looking toward the south-west. I believe the Seacliff/Richmond neighborhood is visible in the background.
I found this beautiful, nearly 6 inch long, praying mantis in a container plant on my back patio.
Since reading Laurens van der Post’s A Mantis Carol, and learning the Bushmen of the Kalahari regard them as manifestations of God, I always approach these creatures with a special reverence. In the Islamic world, they are also important religious symbols. Plus, their subtle movements evoke meditation and mindfulness.
I like to think this little creature’s visit was a reminder to have more subtle awareness of my life and to not get too caught up in the day’s chaos.
What does this have to do with bicycling?
Well…for me riding a bike is good mindfulness practice: It helps me to regain peace of mind after a hard day and helps me to observe my everyday world with a somewhat greater sense of clarity.
Is European-style bike sharing coming to the Bay Area?
The company I’ve been working with Alta Planning + Design has spun-off a new company (Alta Bike Share) that helps cities design and operate these systems. Together with Bixi, we installed an on-street demo for a bike-savvy San Francisco audience at last week’s Sunday Streets.
Closing down streets to auto traffic began with Bogota’s Ciclovia. Here’s some of the history from SF Sunday Street’s website:
Ciclovía, literally “bike path” in Spanish, is a ground-breaking event that started in Bogotá, Colombia. This weekly event draws more than 1.5 million people to walk, bike, skate and enjoy more than 70 miles of streets opened to people – and closed to automobile traffic – every week.
Nearly 20% of this city’s population turns out every Sunday and holiday to participate in the 7 am to 2 pm event, which includes unparalleled free recreation and social opportunities, including dance and yoga lessons in the city’s streets and local parks.
“A quality city is not one that has great roads but one where a child can safely go anywhere on a bicycle.” Enrique Peñalosa, Former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.
John (navy-blue uniform and shades) is the Bixi installation wizard from Montreal. Brodie (light green shirt on the right) manages operations for Alta Bike Share. Sylvia (cap and light green shirt) was, like me, helping out for the day with public information and outreach.
The bikes themselves have lots of useful features: built-in generator hubs to power front and rear lights; internal frame-routed cables; height adjustable seats (yet non-removeable, and thus theft-proof); chain and skirt guards; three-speed internal gear-hubs; and, a front basket-like purse/brief case carrier with bungee cord.