Monthly Archives: August, 2015

From Vox: Why Google’s self-driving cars will be great for cyclists and pedestrians

http://www.vox.com/2015/8/31/9222959/google-car-self-driving

In sum: “…when it comes to safety, they have the potential to outstrip human drivers in every way imaginable. Their algorithms don’t get bored, tired, or angry, and their 360-degree laser sensors mean they don’t have blind spots. Just as importantly, they’re seemingly programmed to always err on the side of excessive caution.”

Wee-hoo hoo

A couple months ago, I saw someone riding a bike pulling a child in a trailer I hadn’t seen before. Some Googling helped me determine it was probably the Weehoo (or something similar, but this appears to be the more common one). Awesome. I described it to my husband and we decided it was the kind of thing we wanted instead of the traditional trailer for a number of reasons (which I can outline if anyone actually cares). One reason is we like that it’s narrow. The problem is it costs between $400-$500. I checked Craigslist and there was nothing in the area. I set up a CL alert, one of the first I had ever done. This was in June or so.

Sunday morning (August 23), I checked my email when I woke up and I had a craigslist alert for a Weehoo for sale for $200 in the area (specifically, about 35-40 miles away). Score! I emailed back immediately and didn’t even try to negotiate. It’s a couple years old, in good shape, and was only missing the orange flag–we got a replacement flag at the bike shop later. That afternoon we drove out, talked to the family, exchanged money for Weehoo, and drove home. M. got to sit in it on their driveway and was so in love that she cried when I took her out of it so we could put it in the car.

Setting up the first ride on the Weehoo

Setting up the first ride on the Weehoo

R. fixed up our bikes to make 2 of them rideable, and set the weehoo up on his bike. He has taken her to and from daycare in it at least 3 times since then. On two of the pick-ups, I’ve ridden my bike with him and we ride back together. It’s about 5 miles round trip and mostly quiet residential roads or a bike path. Last night we had time after dinner to go out for about a 4 mile ride on it. M is very quiet on it — which means she likes it. She holds the bars and has her feet on the pedals but doesn’t try to pedal. When we picked her up the other day and I said we were going home on the Weehoo, she said “Whee!” The teacher said she saw us ride in on our bikes and was excited.

I’m a less confident and less experienced cyclist than R (he raced in school, worked in a bike shop, and did bike polo for awhile), so I’m working my way up to wee-hoo pulling. I signed up for a Cycling Savvy course, especially since I’m riding to work more often now, too. We’re also going to look for an extra hitch so we can switch it back and forth more easily.

Between that and her balance bike (which is not for commuting yet), she’s practically living in her bike helmet. She knows to get the helmet right away and is so safety conscious that she keeps it on even if she’s not on a bike. That’s my girl. Note: it might be less safety and more style or obsession.

Current benefits of cycling to work for me: it’s faster, it’s easier for me to meet my daily fitness goal (because it’s faster so I have more time to add in extra activity / not because it’s shorter than walking), there’s some coasting involved, and I can tell I’m getting stronger — the Hilltop hill is already getting easier. Plus, I like M. seeing me on the bike. The first time I took her out on her balance bike, she wanted Dada, and I wondered if it was because she hadn’t seen me with a bike. Last night when we went out, she smiled at me on my bike and pointed out everyone’s helmets.

Sunday, August 9

We took the MetroLink to CityGarden for a potluck birthday party. The group on the train consisted of me, R, M, one Chinese graduate student, and two Chinese undergraduate exchange students, plus one of their mothers (the students are renting downstairs from us this semester). I had a transit pass, but the students didn’t have theirs yet, so R showed everyone how to get tickets (none of which were checked during our trip). The ride there was straightforward except it conflicted with M’s naptime. Also, we had a stroller and the toddler tricycle (don’t ask). She wasn’t not excited about the train or sitting or having anyone sit near her or basically anything in the entire world during that long 15 minute trip.

After about 90 minutes or so at CityGarden with lots of water time, the international group headed to the Arch, and R, M, and I headed back home. Still no nap yet. A blue train had just arrived — let’s wait for Red, I said. That stop is closer. The train left. M’s crank intensified. She cried off and on. We should have taken the Blue one, I said. The best train is the first one to arrive. During a quiet period, a woman walked by carrying her fussy toddler. Look how good that baby is, she said. Ha.

I had the brilliant idea of tucking the stroller into the area by the train-conductor’s box. Nope, not allowed. I guess in case of emergency, but it makes having anything extra very difficult. I don’t know how people do it with bikes, although the stroller and tricycle probably took up more space. Sometimes the doors on the right open, sometimes the doors on the left open, and it’s generally impossible to get out of the way. A woman’s purse strap got caught on the tricycle handle. Oops, you’re stuck, I said, and helped her pull it off. Thankful for our tiny, quiet train. And don’t get me started about bringing that tricycle, which was used for maybe 10 minutes TOTAL and only because it was there. If you leave it at home, it’s not an option!

Highlight? A man with a cane got off the train. R, who was sitting with M, motioned to me that I should take the empty seat (which happened to be reserved for the elderly and disabled). I was standing with the stroller and tricycle. I shook my head. As the man got off, a woman with a cane was boarding with a young boy, who also had an upright duffel bag on wheels. The two parties bumped at the door. Can I get off first? the man said. I’m sorry–I didn’t see you! the woman said. She’s blind! someone else yelled. Asshole, the woman said. She and the boy sat in the row recently vacated by the man. M cried.

After waiting for the Red train so we could get off at the stop closer to home, we decided to get off at an earlier stop and walk so that M would fall asleep in the stroller.

Victory?

Monday, August 17

M and I took the bus to daycare today. I got her up around 7:20. We were out the door by 7:30. It helped that she wanted to wear her pajamas to school (reindeer ones — Christmas in August). We got to the bus stop in about 5 minutes with me carrying my bag for work, a bag with her stuff for daycare, and her, who carried her purse, which held important items like a bead necklace and toy car.

On the walk, I sang the first verse of The Wheels on the Bus and she danced in my arms. One day I hope she’ll sing it on the bus.

The bus (#2) I planned on taking was running late (Thanks, Google Maps update), so I decided I’d take the other one, which came earlier but had an exit stop an extra block away, which is very far when you’re with a toddler. M sat on one of the benches and ran around on the grass. I didn’t see the bus (#91) at its stop, so we dawdled. Then M wanted to walk in that direction. And that’s when I saw the sign that the stop was temporarily across the street and the bus we wanted was sitting there idling. Then, of course, three buses came from the other direction, so we had to wait to cross. Pretty much right after we sat down (after I confirmed this bus was going down Olive), the driver shut the doors and drove off.

M wanted to hold my transit pass, which costs about $15 to replace. I tried to give her a Starbucks gift card that only has $5 on it — besides, I use Starbucks less than the bus anyway — but she didn’t want it. It’s green and plastic! But the transit pass is orange, and that was better. I pulled the cord too soon and yelled out, “Sorry, I meant the next stop.” We got off.  Bye bus! M called out and waved. I carried her to daycare most of the way. She was happy to go to her room and have breakfast with Ms. Becky.

I checked Google Maps. Campus shuttle coming in 5 minutes. Standing at the stop 5 minutes later, I realize that it will be coming from the other direction, just as it passes. That’s okay, regular bus coming in 10. I walk to a different stop in the shade. That should be it! Then it turns before my stop. Google Maps says the bus is early and has come, but I’ve been standing there and no bus. I blame trolley construction which has caused a number of detours. At that point, I decide to just walk. Twenty minutes later, I’m at my desk. That’s 20 minutes from the bus stop. It’s now 70 minutes since we left the house and more than 2.5 hours since I woke up. On the plus, I’ve already walked 1.35 miles today and part of that was carrying a 26-pound toddler.

Lesson: Next time R decides to go to work early, he can take the bus.