Packing for the Islands

Posted June 18, 2016 By Frank
I'm heading north...

I’m packing for a no-car trip to the San Juan Islands.

I did it 4 years ago, for my 60th. That trip started from Orange County, CA. This trip is more compact, but hopefully just as much fun, this week-long, no-car, bike getaway.

What makes it more compact, besides starting from Portland this time, is a new ferry option out of Seattle. In 2012 we ferried from Seattle to Victoria, B.C. then the four of us rented bikes for an 8-day island-hopping junket. This ferry takes us direct – party of two. It may feel like a direct flight, only there’s no planes on this trip either, but we’ll be in the San Juan Islands pretty quickly this time around.

Swapped a not so old Brooks leather saddle for this slate colored Brooks Cambium C17. It rides a lot different...

Swapped an old Brooks leather saddle for this slate colored, weather-proof Brooks Cambium C17.
It rides a lot different, but I got used to it quickly.

Father’s Day brunch at home then we hop on the bikes saddled with just enough gear for a 7-day getaway.

“Gear,” might be overstating things.

My wife is taking a spork. I’m packing a mini tripod for the iPhone. Everything else is apparel – mild weather is forecast, but the ferry will be chilly. It’s credit-card touring, with all the comforts, except a car.

I read once that it’s best to pack into small panniers,

If you get out the large panniers you’re likely to be filling them.

Great for everyday use and the week-long vacation: the Bontrager Interchange Rear Trunk Deluxe Bag

Great for everyday use and the week-long vacation: the Bontrager Interchange Rear Trunk Deluxe Bag

Instead these are nice and trim with an all-in-one top bag and shoulder strap to boot. On AMTRAK and the ferry we have to strip the bikes, so that shoulder strap will come in handy. Four years ago, without straps and without bikes, we walked across downtown Seattle hand-carrying bulky panniers. This time it will be a breeze.

We wanted to bring our own bikes this time. We’ve tuned and tailored the whole bike: custom wheels, the luggage and more – it’s all just the way we like it, so why not take them?

So AMTRAK gets us out of town and into Seattle for a quick over-nighter.

Monday is a big travel day…

It's time for a change of scenery



Big Ideas: Communicating with Carolyn Szczepanski

Posted February 3, 2015 By Frank

Carolyn Szczepanski

Carolyn Szczepanski

Elecric bikes have to be one of the big ideas in bicycling trends.

Ford Motor has come out with their own eBike and closer to home, Newport Beach Police have an eBike patrol.

Carolyn makes her second appearance on the show — she’s the Director of Communications for the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, D.C.

She pinged me last month to ask if she could interview me – yes, turning the tables on me – it motivated me to dust off my headphones and record this podcast, because, well, she’s interviewing my favorite subject.

We talk about bicycling’s big ideas.

Show #60 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.

Will eBikes be the next Big Idea?

Will eBikes be the next Big Idea?


Mike Samuelson, Open Streets Project

Posted March 20, 2014 By Frank

Open Streets



He’s Mr. Open Streets — meet Mike Samuelson of the Alliance for Biking & Walking, on the Show today.

As we get started, I jump in with a common misperception – according to Mike, the first Open Streets event occurred in Seattle back in 1965; it was and still is called Bicycle Sundays.

I’m sure there’s a lot more I will learn at the Summit. It’s set for April 4-5-6 in Los Angeles with the ultimate bonus — Sunday April 6th we will participate in LA’s next CicLAvia!

He’s got super sponsors, including LA’s Metro, so I ask,

Anyone from OCTA reaching out?

Apparently not yet, but that may change as word spreads of the great benefits accruing from these Open Streets events.

It begs the question — where in Newport Beach, or Orange County, should we target the first Open Streets Project?

I’ll take this inquiry with me as I head up to LA next month. Care to join me?

Registration details here.

Show #59 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.



Pedego Electric Bikes’ Don DiCostanzo

Posted November 6, 2013 By Frank

Don DiCostanzo

Don DiCostanzo

Aging Baby Boomers make for a big fat market opportunity for electric bikes and Don DiCostanzo is well positioned to exploit this opportunity.

He’s the founder of Pedego Electric Bikes based in Irvine, California and they’re growing about as fast as any company can.

But is it the market size, the demographics, the rolling hills across much of California, or the popularity of all bikes right now?

Don would say it’s because the bikes are fun to ride.

There’s a lot more to the story…

Show #58 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.

Pedego dealers

Pedego dealers



Bob Mionske, When Collisions Occur

Posted October 22, 2013 By Frank

Bob Mionske

Bob Mionske

No one likes to imagine they’ll be in a collision, but a little pre-planning could go a long way to repairing whatever damages you might suffer. That’s what Bob and I discuss on today’s show.

On vacation in Portland at the end of August, I wasn’t in town 2 hours when we’re off to dinner. Who walks in and sits next to us? Bob Mionske.

Although we’ve only met in person once or twice, we recognized each other right away. He’s appeared on the show here a few times — we both got a kick out of the realtime connection and pledged to get together online here.

Bicycling and the Law The legal aspects of a couple of local minor collisions prompted me to ring Bob up. Today we’ll review what happens when a cyclist is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle and how you’ve got to keep your wits about you to be sure any medical or mechanical expenses are covered.

Long term listeners know, Bob’s the original, the 1st bicycle attorney to hang a shingle as such. Today he writes a monthly column for Bicycling magazine.

Check out his book, Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights As A Cyclist.

Show #57 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.

Bob's original artwork

Bob’s original artwork



Janette Sadik-Khan’s TED Talk

Posted October 9, 2013 By Frank

Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner NYC DOT: NY Streets? Not so mean anymore

As bike advocates we’ve all heard the mantra: To make really effective changes, it takes commitment from the top.

When you have that commitment and leadership, like NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan, great things can happen.

Watch her describe the highlights of her past 6 years’ accomplishments.



Carlsbad’s Pilot Projects, Bryan Jones

Posted September 19, 2013 By Frank

Bryan Jones

Bryan Jones

His business card reads, “Deputy Director, City Traffic Engineer”; meet Bryan Jones from the City of Carlsbad, CA.

He’s a fellow bike rider – we ride the same brand. He’s a great coach, after only an hour together and I am learning how to be a more effective advocate. He’s practiced – he’s done all this before in Fresno before moving to Carlsbad only 2 years ago. He’s having a big impact; already Carlsbad is a bright spot along the coast for those who wish to bike and walk. He’s a Facebook friend, too – that’s how I know he’s an optimist.

This is the first time we’ll meet and there’s so much I want to accomplish, especially seeing the infrastructure, the bike racks and bike corrals. I arrive early and rent a Pedego electric bike so I can zip around to see the new buffered bike lanes on Carlsbad Blvd. We will meet at Brand and Roosevelt and when I get there 10 minutes ahead of him, I understand why: there are bike racks everywhere.

I can’t do everything and I’ve got a million questions. Where can we sit for the interview that’s quiet?

Carlsbad lagoon

Can you think of some place quiet for the interview?
A park overlooking the Carlsbad lagoon

Bryan keeps mentioning the 9 Community Values. I was surprised that biking isn’t #1 or #2, it’s things like small town feel, beach community character and connectedness along with access to recreation and active, healthy lifestyles. And I’m beginning to see how the infrastructure improvements that are happening here are part of a bigger picture – biking is a way to accomplish these objectives.

Show #56 Listen: Stream, Flash player, or subscribe through iTunes.

Buffered bike lane

Buffered bike lane on Carlsbad Blvd

Looking north on Carlsbad Blvd.

Looking north on Carlsbad Blvd.

Bike corral

Bike corral at Brand and Roosevelt

Bryan Jones

Bryan Jones with his Pedego electric bike



What Raccoons and Cyclists Have in Common

Posted September 15, 2013 By Frank

Winston with his original raccoon toy

I love my dog and he loves raccoons, so to get him going I turned on a TV documentary, Nature: Raccoon Nation.

Usually he prefers movies with ponies, or movies about other dogs, even animated dogs get him barking and jumping at the screen, but during this raccoon show I had to restrain him. Too much teasing? He’s a big-brained dog with a 200-word vocabulary if you believe what my wife claims; 20 might be more like it. He likes to sit on the couch and watch movies with us.

This old raccoon puppet toy – you’re supposed to stick your hand in it to animate the ‘coon, just try it – was the first of many ‘coon toys. When we travel we’re often looking for doggie souvenirs and nothing satisfies like a ‘coon toy.

Basket of ccons

Winston’s basket of ‘coons

So you understand my motivations while browsing around Netflix – when I discovered this PBS raccoon show I knew it would entertain the 3 of us. My wife thought the dog would get too worked up and he did, but I couldn’t turn it off. Raccoons it turns out, are fascinating creatures.

Watch the documentary

Watch the documentary

While out on my Saturday morning ride I was reflecting on one of my recent San Luis Obispo rides where, at one point, I saw a dead raccoon by the side of the road. I immediately knew how it got there – raccoons only have one predator: the automobile.

Although the documentary was mostly about how raccoons are evolving quickly; they’re adapting to our urban world and mastering the obstacles we place in front of them. It’s getting harder to keep them out of the attic and out of the garbage can.

But what stuck with me was how the automobile is their only predator. They get hit crossing busy streets. You’ll sometimes see one by the side of the road where MacArthur exits the 73 tollroad; the road cuts through their habitat.

On my bike today I’m thinking of the dangers that I face – pretty much same as a ‘coon.

Maybe that’s a good idea for my Halloween Bike Tour costume…



Bye Santa Barbara

Posted September 10, 2013 By Frank

It’s our last morning; we will depart Santa Barbara at 2pm as we head for home.

We’ve got time for a ride south along the coast; breakfast is our objective.

There’s great off-road riding along the beach then the path turns inland for the few miles to the Four Seasons Hotel in Montecito.


Yeah, it’s a beautiful off-road bike path, this Coast Route path, but I can’t help feeling it doesn’t match up on the equity side. Equity, the next of the E’s coming for Bicycle Friendly Community, asks rating advocates to consider if poorer parts of a city are as well served as the wealthy. Good question, eh?

Montecito has to be one of the wealthiest communities in all of California and it’s obvious, they have it better than everyone else when it comes to bike paths, too.

We haven’t eaten a bite yet, so we pedal on into lower Montecito where there are several cafes with outdoor seating. We recognize one from past visits and pedal on over.

In my youth this posh neighborhood held great sway, but today I’m not so smitten. The nearby homes are some of the priciest anywhere; the cars parked in the lot confirm it, too, You’re not in Kansas anymore — even Corona del Mar pales in comparison. This impression I’m getting is creeping me out a little — this is ground zero for economic inequality — it’s time to ride back to Santa Barbara.

You’re not in Montecito any more!

Back in Santa Barbara I realize I haven’t been taking photos of the bike racks. There are 2 kinds, adequate, but not great and terrible. The most common bike rack in town, the Philadelphia bike rack, is great when empty as pedestrians can enter from street parking easily, but in a lot of cases these racks aren’t located next to street parking. A few inverted U racks would be well received; they support the bike better — in 2 places — and there are a lot of bikes carrying a full load.

Santa Barbara’s bike rack, like I’ve seen in Philadelphia, does a poor job of supporting the bike.

Here in the harbor we find these concrete bike racks. Bikes can easily be damaged in these racks. This worst-of-all bike rack is complemented by the world’s worst bike chain, too.

My mascot, Skunky, logs another bike tour.



Familiar Santa Barbara

Posted September 9, 2013 By Frank

Our favorite breakfast spot, Garrett’s Old Fashion Restaurant, is just blocks from the Mission, so we have to pedal over and enjoy the views.

Although it’s our final stop on this 6-day getaway, there’s no remorse. We’ve visited Santa Barbara a hundred times over many years — we love it here.

First thing we appreciate is the climate, just like Corona del Mar — cool temps with a marine layer suits us perfectly.

We have few plans for the 2 days and nights we’ll visit this time. Barbara wants to eat at Arrigato Sushi; it’s her favorite. I pretend to be ambivalent, but it has fabulous sushi. We get there just minutes before there’s a line out the door.

Monday morning we’re up and out early. Downtown Santa Barbara is quiet so we ride right up State Street looking for breakfast. One favorite spot is closed for the week, so that’s when I remember Garrett’s Old Fashion restaurant — it’s up by the Mission, so we can combine some sightseeing, too.

It’s all downhill as we return to the beach. We’re having a good time riding on the quiet streets, but the oceanfront path will be even better. It leads us around the harbor and up to Shoreline Park where we’re greeted with views of the harbor below.

The view from Shoreline Park.

We discover Santa Barbara City College and its panoramic views.

It’s a quick downhill ride from City College which puts us in the harbor just in time for lunch.

Edward France was a guest here at cdmCyclist just last month, so I had to drop in on him.

Ed’s got a great 5,000 square foot facility with loads of bikes — 6 repair stations, too.

As I arrive Ed’s hosting 4 city staff; I overhear them discussing the next iteration of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Master Plan. I’m not surprised that Ed’s holding his own in this 4:1 discussion — he’s wiser than his years. He has his work cut out, like many advocates do, SB has a long way to go to becoming a great city for cycling. The tourist district has lots of bike rental shops and the beach boardwalk is busy even now in the off-season, but once you leave the beach it feels like a lot of other places. Traffic is light compared to Newport Beach, or so it feels, and we experience many simple courtesies as we explore the city.

Santa Barbara has a nice grid to work with. Google maps shows many low-stress routes across the city, but for the most part you’re traveling alongside parked cars separated by a stripe of paint from hectic motorists.

Ed offers a tour of his 5,000 square foot facility. He’s got a lot of vintage bikes for sale, many steel frame beauties. Sales of the donated bikes helps to offset his overhead. I can’t think of anything like it back at home. It’s bigger than the SLO Bike Kitchen; feels quite similar.

I take advantage of Ed by asking his opinion on many of the issues we face in Newport Beach. He’s a good listener and always asks first if he may offer advice. On one simple aspect of the bike master plan he advises, be prepared to do much of your restriping right after implementation of the plan; the public will object less to whatever inconveniences occur because they’ll sense it’s all part of the plan — if you wait to do a lot of restriping you may encounter better organized opposition. Point taken. And he’s got more to offer, like dealing with the Coastal Commission, who he says is “great” and he tells me of new off-road bike paths being implemented south of the city where the CCC made sure it worked out well. I share with him my issues with Coast Hwy as it runs through first Huntington Beach then Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Again he listens well and offers a suggestion on how to gain even more support for dramatic changes in bike safety along this popular route. I hope to be able to put his advice to work soon…

It’s our last dinner on our 6-day visit to the Central Coast.

Table for two? No reservation? It usually takes a week to get a table. The maitre d’ keeps at it until he finds a lovely table for us. As he walks us to the table he mentions my cycling jacket — he rides every day since 1973, so we have a quick chat on bike safety. Being a little under-dressed worked out in this case.