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Planning our first Edmonton Kidical Mass

Planning our first Edmonton Kidical Mass

The Kidical Mass logo, via Totcycle.

We’ve been talking among our circle about organizing a Kidical Mass ride in Edmonton for ages now, and decided that this is the year it’s going to happen! Our planning team includes me and Angel, and our friends Karen (who might not be able to come to this one since she’ll be caring for a newborn, but will be a regular in the future) and Erin (who has just moved here, and was an enthusiastic participant at Victoria’s Kidical Mass events).

Kidical Mass is a lighthearted family- and kid-centred group ride that is now running in most North American cities. For more information, check out their About and FAQ pages.

When: June is Bike Month in Edmonton, so it seems like the best time to hold our first one. Since the 3rd Sunday was clear of rides last year, we chose June 16th and checked with the Bikeology Festival organizers to ensure we wouldn’t be overlapping with any of their major events. They gave us the all-clear, and search engines gave us nothing to be worried about on the date, so: Sunday June 16th it will be!

Where: We wanted a central location, so we chose Hawrelak Park. It’s nice and big, there are picnic facilities and a playground, any vehicular traffic moves at a speed slower than typical residential roads, and there are lots of unpaved bike trails if anyone wants to take their kids for a different sort of ride, in addition to the official KM ride. For anyone who needs to bring their bike quite a distance, there’s parking, and the ride there from the closest LRT station is pleasant (well, hilly, but pretty!) if you prefer to go multi-modal. Before we announced it, a couple of us met at Hawrelak to try out the route and do some brainstorming.

We have booked Picnic Site #1 for 11am-3pm, with the intent being that our route around the park includes a stop at the playground beside site #3. The whole loop is 2.53km, and takes about 20 minutes total, with the playground stop about halfway (so, 10 minutes of riding, stop and play for 30 minutes, 10 minutes of riding). Here is the park map with our picnic site and route highlighted:

hawrelakmap

Promotion: We will be promoting it on Twitter using the #yegbike hashtag, a Facebook event page the Bikeology festival organizers created, fliers made by our kids (see below), and getting our rides listed with the official KM page and the Bikeology Festival page (where all the fantastic local events during Bike Month are listed) and maybe a couple of the local parenting blogs (update: City and Baby kindly included us in their roundup of Fathers’ Day events!).

A poster my daughter made, which we're photocopying to post in a few key places.
A poster my daughter made, which we’re photocopying to post in a few key places.

Food and Activities: We agreed that the best idea this time around is to keep it relatively simple. Bring your own picnic; we’ll provide some fresh fruit, bottled water, a lemonade stand, and peanut-and-tree-nut-free ice cream and popsicles. We will also have a craft table for making sparkly spoke cards, a bike decorating area, and face painting! Update: there will be face painting and balloons by Wonderstuff, and a booth by Pedalheads childrens’ bicycle camps.

Safety Thoughts: For liability insurance purposes, all participants (not just children) are required to wear helmets, and we’ll go over how helmets should fit. We’ll also remind everyone how to do hand signals. We will assemble for the ride in the parking lot beside Picnic Site #1, which we will close to traffic while we’re getting ready. We will be riding on the road as a group, but traffic within the park is restricted to a 20 km/h speed limit, so it will be a very safe introduction to riding on the road. Our ride leader will keep our speed moderate, and our ride sweep will make sure nobody gets left behind; both will have signs and flags on their bikes and high-vis sashes.

Other Housekeeping: Picnic Site #1 does have shelter and washrooms. We will doing the ride rain or shine. Need to find the organizers? We’ll be wearing high-vis sashes and balloon hats, and I’ll be the one in the polka-dot helmet.

Followup: During the event, we will also do an informal survey of our attendees to gauge interest in a smaller monthly Kidical Mass ride and in an annual Fiets Of Parenthood event, and to get a sense of the proportions of new vs experienced cycling families in attendance. If we get enough interest, we will do a second family event in the fall, then might set a monthly schedule starting next spring.

Want to organize a Kidical Mass in your community? Check the Kidical Mass site to see if one already exists, then read this how-to post from Simply Bike.

Autumn Critical Lass, Sat Oct 2nd

Autumn Critical Lass, Sat Oct 2nd

We have chosen a date for the next Critical Lass ride!

We’ve moved it to a Saturday so that we’re not competing with Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ AGM (1-3pm on Sun Oct 3rd).
The weather will probably be cool. This is a great opportunity to do a layered fall look with tall boots!

Next question is what route should we do? Comments?

Suburban Summer Critical Lass

Suburban Summer Critical Lass

It’s past time that we started planning the Critical Lass Summer 2010 style ride, so, let’s get to it!


As we’ve said in our previous CL posts, we love that simply by riding with our friends in fashionable clothes we can promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity. It’s August, so think breezy and easy when you’re choosing your outfit: linen, hemp, seersucker, polka dots, madras plaid, that great artisan jewelry you bought at Folk Fest, sunscreen. We’ll be providing pins again, this time in the red-violet that’s all over the fashions for this summer and fall:



We thought this time we’d make the ride more family-friendly and suburban, just to show that we can. I’m going to propose two possible routes through the Riverbend-Terwillegar neighborhood below, and get you to vote on which sounds like more fun to you in the comments. Both routes will be fairly level, take some combination of paved multiuse trails and suburban roads, and form a loop (to make it easier for those who need to take another form of transportation here). If you have kids, please feel free to bring them along in a bike trailer or on a trailer-bike (or a box-bike like the Madsen – yes, Sarah, I am looking in your direction *nudgenudgewinkwink*).


Oh, about helmets: Yes, we will be riding slowly on multiuse paths and suburban roads, and since you are likely over 18 years old, you can weigh the actual risk of head injury and legally choose not to wear one. Whatever. However, anyone under 18 in Alberta *is* legally obligated to wear a helmet, which may be a hypocritical double standard, ignored by the vast majority of teenagers, and left unenforced, but… there it is. It’s the law here. Whatever your opinion about helmet laws, our choices send a message and set an example for any kids in attendance (including mine) and kids who see us ride past. There’s also a tonne of anecdotal evidence that North American cyclists who do not wear helmets can run up against harsh prejudices that undercut the truth of cycling (safe, fun, easy) that we’re trying to demonstrate. Let’s show them how awesome a helmet can look, yeah?


Here are the deets:


Date: Sunday, August 15th or 22nd, 2010
Time: 1:00pm gather time, depart at 1:30pm (giving ourselves more time so our kids can play and we can do casual pre-ride photos – no press will be invited this time)
Starting Point: the Tomlinson Park playground in Terwillegar Towne
Route to include:  TBA* update: see Proposed Route 1
End Point: BBQ at Deborah’s home
For contact info (if you might be late, wanting to meet up with us at a later point, etc) send a DM to me (@ecoDomestica) or Angel (@angelzilla) on twitter so we can exchange cell numbers.


*Proposed route 1: from Tomlinson Park playground to Riverbend Square shopping/cafe area via Haddow Drive, Riverbend Road and Rabbit Hill Road (primarily on residential roads); back to Deborah’s via Falconer Road, the east-west multiuse trail over Terwillegar Drive, and Towne Centre Boulevard. See this walking map (PDF) for reference. This is the longer of the two routes, spends more time on quiet residential streets, and possible midpoint destinations include shopping at indie toy store Laugh N Learn, a visit to the library, smoothies at Booster Juice, and snacks from a couple of different bakeries. (Not to mention the frozen food aisle of the grocery store.) It also passes two additional playgrounds that will make good stopping points if we are bringing children along. Update: this will be our route.


*Proposed route 2: from Tomlinson Park playground to the cluster of shops and restaurants at the corner of Rabbit Hill Road and 23rd Ave, via the multiuse path through the big park beside Tory Road (like the reverse of the last part of this ride), then back to Deborah’s via Rabbit Hill Road, the east-west multiuse trail, and Towne Centre Boulevard. This is the shorter of the two routes, spends more time on multiuse trails (but includes crossing a very busy intersection, probably on foot), and possible midpoint destinations include shopping at Jilly’s Home & Lifestyle, gelato at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, and iced coffees or lemonades at Second Cup or Tim Horton’s. (Not to mention the frozen food aisle of the grocery store.) It has fewer child-friendly stopping points.


A third possibility would be to head for the east-west trail and take it, with picnic supplies, down into the river valley – but that route is not as flat as some have requested, so will not be used. 😉


To get here from downtown or the university area: take the LRT all the way south to Century Park LRT Station. Then either cycle west on 23rd Ave (the bike route map dates to 2007, and there is now a wide sidewalk on the north side of the road the entire way which is treated as a multiuse trail by almost every cyclist I see on busy 23rd Ave), or take route 334 bus (or route 336 from Southgate LRT Station – but there is no bike rack on either, booooo), to Leger Transit Centre – and then cross 23rd at the lights to get on Towne Centre Boulevard. Your second right is Tomlinson Way, and at the bottom of that (not steep) hill is Tomlinson Park playground. 
Route 30 has bus bike racks and goes from Century Park LRT station to Leger Transit Centre – but does not run on Sundays. Hmmm. Maybe we need to move from a Sunday (15th or 22nd) to a Saturday (14th or 21st)?


*Ok, we need your votes: which date works best for you? Which route do you prefer? If you’re bringing your kids, how old are they and how will they ride? And: go!


Aug 12th Update: As you see from the italicized edits above, voting is now closed and our date is set for this coming Sunday. The forecast is currently sunny and a high of 24C, so dress accordingly & bring sunscreen! For those of you staying for the barbeque, please let me know if you can bring some food – both so I can ensure there isn’t too much duplication and to make sure everything planned is okay for our peanut-free household. 


Looking ahead: we hope to arrange for another Critical Lass ride and possibly a vintage-bike-appreciation ride in the next couple of months. We also hope there will soon be news from EBC about an Autumn 2010 Edmonton Tweed Ride… so much to look forward to!

Planning Critical Lass: a Slow Style Ride

Planning Critical Lass: a Slow Style Ride

(Photo credit: LIFE magazine. These ladies are riding in 1950s France.)

The LFL ladies first started talking among ourselves about having a slow ride or style ride back in mid-January. We thought that rather than posting the event as a fait-accompli, it might be helpful both to us and to others organizing similar rides for us to talk about the nitty-gritty of the planning (below and in comments) – but first let us talk about the rationale.

We love the idea of bicycle fashion as advocacy, and we thought a ride in fashionable clothes would be a neat way to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity. Since June is Bike Month in Edmonton and the weather will be pleasant enough to wear pretty clothes without needing extra layers, it seemed like the best time to do it for the first time.

Of course, a style ride is also about dressing up at least a little – but we mean ‘dressing up’ in the dateworthy-outfit sense, not the costume sense. Our aim is girly fun and everyday fashion – although dapper dans are also welcome to come along. Skirts and dresses and adorable capri pants are suggested; so are bike baskets and helmets decorated with flowers and ribbons and pretty stickers. Please wear a helmet, but leave the spandex at home (not that we have anything against spandex, but it’s not how we roll.). If you need some ideas, check out Riding Pretty’s recent post about fashion for summertime tweed rides and the Flikr Bike Wardrobe ReMix Pool for inspiration, then translate to your day-to-day wardrobe.

For more about the Slow Ride Movement, see this awesomely slow blog, and this series of posts on Riding Pretty. We think we’d like Critical Lass to be a new quarterly style ride, with the theme being the seasons – and we kind of hope that some of the people we meet through it will be interested in forming an informal social bicycle riding club (that is, a semi-regular thing more like the San Diego 3-Speed Rambling Society or the Petaluma Slow Ride or Chicago’s Slow Ride Society‘s rides).

Now to the planning details:

So far our group of organizers and participants include the Loop-Frame Love blogging collective (Angel @angelzilla, Deborah @ecoDomestica, and Nicki @justNICKI), and our Edmonton Twitter friends and cyclists Marilyn (@tricotmiss), Sarah of Girls And Bicycles (@misssarahchan) and Fiona of Girl Can Bike (@terraskye). If you’d like to join in, RSVP below! We’ve chatted via Twitter and email about our ideas, then last night Angel and I met with Alexa and Victoria from the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society to talk about some details:

Liability: Alexa and Victoria pointed out that the possibility of being sued has kept EBC from widely promoting some of their events in the past. EBC are looking into insurance for future events through an agency that provides that service for not-for-profit organizations, but for now they strongly advised that we keep it small and informal. That’s fine with us since it will also help with the social, community-building aspects of the ride.

Promotion will therefore be essentially word-of-mouth, through our blogs and twitter.

– The Route: on level roads and paths without much traffic (to make it easy for new cyclists, and allow us to chat while we ride), starting at a convenient central gathering place – in our case, EBC’s Bikeworks, where someone will give us some tips on riding as a group, and how this is different from a faster ride on main streets like Critical Mass, before we go. This location also allows people to meet for brunch nearby beforehand if they wish. Sarah also pointed out that too many stops or too long a route can be discouraging, so we’re going to keep it to a couple of hours. We also need to make sure bicycle parking won’t be ridiculously difficult at our chosen stops. 
Right now we’re thinking Bikeworks to End-of-Rail-Park for photos, then in leisurely fashion through the residential area around the University, and ending at a little shopping area near the University that includes a LBS and several cafes. We’d like to have a loose schedule and route map so participants know in advance what the route is and where we’ll be (or almost be) at any given time. 
Let’s chat in the comments about the exact route to take and any other advice and ideas you might have. We’re looking forward to this conversation!