Category Archives: Cycling

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Fly a Kite

Summer is slowly fading and the first colds of back-to-school season are kicking in. We had a great summer with waterpark trips, biking along the seawall, beach parties, a lot of popsicles, and happily no wildfire smoke or asthma hospital trips (hurray!).

Family Reunion

In July, right after Astrid got her cast off, we spent 4 days in Kamloops and Chilliwack with my sisters and Astrid’s cousins. We were grateful the cast was gone because we spent almost everyday in the water. The kids had a blast swimming at the lake, riding the water slides at Cultus Lake, and eating ice cream at Harrison Lake. Photo album here.

Cousins
Ice Cream

We also hosted two playdates – one with daycare friends and one with the Hirtles. The key to a successful kids playdate appears to be rainbow popsicles, fresh cucumbers from the garden, playdough, and a big empty box.

Rainbow Popsicles
Carrots and Cucumbers

It’s hard to believe, but Astrid is even more proficient on her balance bike and has started to wear out the toes of her shoes as she skids to a stop after flying down hills.

Our little girl is really growing up, she’s now in the 3-5 room at daycare. She transitioned very smoothly and handled the change well. Her gradual entry report card included these gems:

  • Enjoys risky play and exploring her boundaries.
  • She will say she needs to use the bathroom when others are going even she doesn’t actually have to.
  • Sometimes takes big bits and needs reminders to take small bites.
Rooftop Garden
Risky play
Eating Cucumbers from the Garden
Big bites

More photos from August and a few from September.

Seawall Sunset
Umaluma Ice Cream

Astrid – 3 Years Old

Happy 3rd Birthday, Astrid!

A lot has changed in the past year. Astrid is definitely more opinionated, adventurous, and bossy than she was a year ago. Pretty standard stuff for a ‘threenager’. She’s also sleeping in a bed, diaper-free, communicating with full sentences, and loves to ride her bike. So there are plenty of positives too.

Zoomer

A newfound love for her bike has been the biggest change in the past month. It started during Bike to Work Week when she rode her bike to daycare a few times. Her balance has steadily improved and now she can zoom around lifting her legs to glide. I’m excited that soon I’ll be able to go running with her biking beside me.

Banged Up

Now that asthma is no longer an everyday concern, she’s replaced wheezing trips to the hospital with head injuries. Earlier in the month, she banged the back of her head on the corner of the wall.
Three weeks later she smashed her face on the concrete while playing on the railings in our rooftop garden.

Climber

Both incidents were pretty scary and she was lucky not to do more damage. The head injuries have made me more paranoid, but Astrid still loves to climb and be adventurous. We’re trying to teach her that there are safe places to climb that are less dangerous.

Tiger Team
Daycare Friends
Neighbours
Cousins

Astrid is a social butterfly. She loves spending time with her daycare friends, neighbours, and her cousins. After daycare, she usually spends half an hour playing with her friends in the square. And then when we finally drag her home, all she wants to do is play on the rooftop with our neighbours.

Quarry Rock

For Canada Day, we went hiking along the Quarry Rock trail in Deep Cove. Astrid spent most of the hike in a backpack, but she also walked for a surprisingly long time, including a long uphill section. On the hike back, she had to pee, so we said she had to go in the woods. Before I could offer help, she had pulled down her pants, squatted, and peed without getting any on her pants or shoes. It was the first time she’s peed not on a toilet.

Vegan Ice Cream

Astrid’s birthday party has been split into 3 small gatherings. One with her cousins when we spent the afternoon at the splash pad in Prince Edward Park. We had a small party with her daycare friends in the bird plaza with cupcakes, bubbles, and chalk. And next weekend we’re going to the Second Beach pool with some of our family friends.

20190629_173705
Birthday in Bird Plaza

More photos from June and photos from May.

3rd Birthday

Commuting with Mobi Bike Share

Mobi Bikes

In November I won a free annual membership to Vancouver’s bike share program, Mobi by Shaw Go. At the time I was working in Richmond and commuting 15 km each way on my Norco road bike. I didn’t need a bike share membership but thought it might come in handy occasionally.

Five months later and now I’m using Mobi every day for my commute, logging 175 trips and 400¬†km. What changed? In December I started a new job downtown and discovered that bike share is surprisingly the fastest way for me to get to and from work. It’s about 2 minutes faster than taking public transit and 5 minutes faster than using my own bike, because of the time it takes to store my bike in the secure bike parking rooms on each end.

The Mobi bikes are definitely heavier and slower than my road bike, but I only have a 2.5 km commute so averaging 15 km/h on a Mobi bike is only a minute or two slower than averaging 20 km/h on my road bike. And that’s only because I have a long stretch without traffic lights.

What I like about commuting with Mobi:

  • I don’t have to worry about bike lights, flat tires, or worn out brake pads.
  • The bikes all have chain guards so my pants don’t get greasy.
  • I don’t have to worry if my bike will get stolen.
  • The station density is pretty good. I have 3 stations near home and 2 close to work.

What I don’t like:

  • Now that weather is getting better, it’s sometimes hard to find a bike, especially after work.
  • I miss my panniers and the storage capacity they provided. The basket on the Mobi bikes provides some space, but nothing compared to 2 panniers.
  • The shared helmets are a little gross, although they’ve worked out better than I expected. We’ll see how sweaty they get in the summer.
  • The closest station to my work is at Granville and Georgia, but the bikes are covered in pigeon poop.

I’m guessing my summer commuting experience will be very different from the past 5 months. In the winter, I rarely had a problem finding a bike or a space to dock it when I was done. But in the past week, I’ve had 3 days where the station I normally use was out of bikes. The¬†statistics below from MountainMath¬†show that usage has really increased in the past week. I’m sure that’s due to the nice weather and Mobi’s recent expansion into East Vancouver.

mobi_usage

Overall, I’ve been happy enough with Mobi that I’ll probably renew my membership. It doesn’t completely replace owning a bike for me – I still need my own to pull my daughter’s bike trailer. But for short commutes, I’ve been surprised to find it’s actually the most convenient way to get around.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Southlands Heritage Farm

To celebrate Thanksgiving and the beautiful fall weather here in Vancouver, we took Astrid to Southlands Heritage Farm to visit the pumpkin patch. Southlands is a bizarre neighbourhood in the south-west corner of Vancouver, with mansions on giant acreages, horses, and active farms.

Southlands Heritage Farm

Astrid wasn’t a fan of the horses. In fact she was terrified of them, which is odd because she’s usually fearless. But we had fun in the pumpkin patch, playing in the straw pile, and watching the goats.

Southlands Heritage Farm

We rode the Skytrain most of the way there (to Langara-49th) and biked back along the Arbutus Greenway. It was our first chance to bike most of the Arbutus corridor. What a great route. Nice gentle grade and busy with cyclists, walkers, strollers, runners, and people of all ages.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

Astrid fell asleep in the chariot and slept for most of the way home, which included a pit stop at the Kitsilano Farmers Market.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

Emily showing off the 15 km we biked today. The Arbutus Greenway is too new to be on this bike map.

Biking the Arbutus Greenway

We ended the day walking around the Olympic Village and enjoying a beautiful sunset over False Creek.

Thanksgiving Sunset

Mobi Soft Launch Today

Mobi Bikes

Mobi is soft launching today with 23 stations (out of 150 that will be up and running by the end of the summer) for founding¬†members only. They have a new¬†website¬†with an interactive map showing how many bikes and open spots are available at each station. They’re still working on their mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Details on Mobi pricing, including daily and monthly memberships, is available here.

There is a crowd-sourced map that includes the 23 stations available today and 7 more that are partially installed and should be available soon. The initial coverage is pretty sparse and doesn’t include anything south of Broadway or west of Burrard.

Here is the official Mobi launch map.

Mobi founding member launch map

Mobi – Vancouver’s Bike Share

Mobi Bikes
Vancouver’s Mobi Bike Share has been slowly rolling out across the city. It looks like they are a month behind their original mid-June launch date, but progress is being made. I’ve seen partial bike share stations installed under the Cambie Bridge (south-side) and near the Creekside Community Centre.

Mobi Bike Station

In the next few weeks, 100 stations will be distributed throughout Vancouver’s core. The initial service area is¬†east of Arbutus, west of Main, and north of 16th including Stanley Park (green area below).

Vancouver Bike Share Map

Update: Map of the initial stations is available here.

Here are the pricing options. First, you need to buy a membership (varying in length from 24 hours to 1 year). Most memberships come with free unlimited trips under 30 or 60 minutes. For longer trips, you pay an overage cost per half hour period. Currently, the only memberships for sale are the 1-year Founding Member ones.

Membership Length Signup Cost Free Trip Overage Cost
(per half hour)
Founder 1 1 year $99 30 min $2 (30-60 min)
$3 (>60 min)
Founder Plus 1 1 year $129 60 min $3
Monthly Basic 2 1 month $10 None $2
Monthly Standard 2 1 month $15 30 min $2 (30-60 min)
$3 (>60 min)
Monthly Plus 2 1 month $20 60 min $3
Day Pass 24 hours $7.50 30 min $3

1 – Founder prices only until June 30 (will likely be extended)
2 Р3 month minimum for monthly plans

Mobi Assembly Yard

From what I’ve been told from Mobi staff, bikes must be returned to a bike share station to end your trip. Each bike comes with a cable lock that extends from¬†the right handlebar to the fork¬†that can be used¬†if you want to make a quick stop without ending your rental. As an extra security measure, the handlebars can’t be turned when the bike is locked (like an immobilizer). Helmets will be provided with each bike (left on the cable lock).

Mobi’s full Terms and Conditions¬† (Archived Doc).

Bike Share (Finally) Coming to Vancouver

Hubway
Vancouver is finally getting a bike share system. Fingers crossed, bikes should be on the ground and ready to roll mid-June.

It’s been a long road. The City of Vancouver first started exploring bike share systems in 2008, and signed an initial contract to deliver one in 2013 (but that fell through when BIXI went bankrupt).

The biggest hurdle¬†has been our BC-wide,¬†all-ages, mandatory helmet law (which I’ve written about before). There still doesn’t seem to be a good solution. When¬†bike share was announced in 2013, the plan was to put yet-to-be-invented helmet vending machines at every station. 3 years later, that technology still doesn’t exist. Now the¬†plan is to just leave helmets with the bikes and periodically clean them.

Ignoring the helmet problems, I think Vancouver’s done a great job choosing a bike share vendor and picking the initial service area.¬†For bikes and stations, the provider will be¬†Smoove. The main difference between Smoove and BIXI (which other¬†Canadian cities have and most people are familiar with) is the Smoove bikes are smart and have minimal station requirements, while BIXI bikes are simple and the have the smarts. This means Smoove bikes have GPS tracking and¬†can be locked anywhere (although there will still be dedicated stations), a system more like Car2Go.

Vancouver Bike Share Map
The initial service area will be east of Arbutus, north of 16th Ave, and west of Main street (including Stanley Park). There will be 1000 bikes and 100 stations at launch, expanding to 1500 bicycles at 150 stations by the end of 2016. If all goes well, the first expansion will move west to Macdonald (including Kitsilano) and east to Commercial Drive (the blue areas on the map above).

The initial area includes Vancouver’s¬†densest neighbourhoods, the business district,¬†11 km of uninterrupted Seawall, the most¬†popular¬†tourist attractions in the city (Stanley Park, Granville Island, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Science World),¬†plus¬†separated¬†bike lanes and bike routes with only modest hills. With 150 stations¬†in the initial area, that would give Vancouver a station density close to New York. Imagine¬†stations every 2 blocks in most areas (see this example¬†by UBC’s Carter Xin for an idea of station location).

There is absolutely no reason bike share shouldn’t succeed in Vancouver, except for helmets.¬†The most recent city that has tried to launch a bike share system with a mandatory helmet law, is Seattle (which also happens to have similar weather and topology). The results have been¬†disappointing and many people blame the city’s helmet law. When Seattle launched their bike share system in 2014, they¬†were planning on using the same helmet vending technology that Vancouver was considering. It wasn’t ready at launch so they decided to just leave bins of helmets at each station. 2 years alter, that temporary solution is still in place and Seattle’s Pronto system is paying $85,000 a year to maintain its helmets (in a system with only 1000 bikes), and the vending machine solution is still nowhere in sight.

All that to say, I’m looking forward to Vancouver’s bike share system. I happen to live and work in the initial area, and even though I own my own bike I plan on getting a membership and adding bike share to my transportation options. I just wish someone in provincial politics would have the courage to¬†admit what research has been showing for some time – that our mandatory bike helmet law isn’t saving lives¬†and is a hindrance to increased rates of cycling.