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A tale of two street fairs

A tale of two street fairs

Part 1:  San Francisco’s Mission District

In May, I went to San Francisco for a business trip. I booked a Sunday morning flight, so that I could have the afternoon free for fun. With great luck, I was able to join Hum of the City and her family to the Mission District Street Fair. We’d only “met” via twitter and blog comments before and it was a delight to meet her in person. Fun fact – we’re both in the medical sciences field, but had no idea until we met that day.

“Hum” rode her honest-to-god Japanese Mamachari, which she’s posted on extensively. All I can add is that any bike shop that doesn’t think there is a market for ready-made family transportation bikes is in denial. Or doesn’t talk to parents. Seriously – every time she takes this bike out, people stop her to ask where they can get one. I want one – and my kid’s far too big for it.

Her husband and son rode this fantastically designed trailer bike. It’s attached via a rear rack, making it super stable, just like our Burley Piccolo. However, it attaches at the very back, leaving the top of the rack available for cargo or a rear child seat. In contrast, the Piccolo has a giant knob in the middle of the rack, so the sides can be used for panniers, but a child seat cannot be attached. The downside? It’s only available in Germany. I need to start expanding my linkedin network to more international scientists, so that I have access to some of the cool bikes available overseas. 
I got to ride the Brompton – see how many cool bikes they have? I found the handling a little weird at first, but quickly got used to it. I’ve been admiring these baby-wheeled devices for well over a year now. I haven’t come up with a convincing rational for why I need to buy one yet, but it’s only a matter of time. 
Once we reached the Mission District, the party was in full swing and the streets were filled with people. People walking, people riding bikes – the atmosphere was incredibly mellow and happy. We did need to use our slow-biking skills to weave through the crowd. But hey – at this point we were already at our destination, so what’s the hurry?

We traveled the whole length of the street fair, stopping to watch performances, including this cabaret/acrobatics group, and the obligatory bathroom & snacks stop. We were very sad when the party ended with a police sweep and a return to normal traffic.

Yes, I have now joined the ranks of people who take pictures of infrastructure in their spare time. At least I didn’t run out into traffic to get a better shot.

Our route home went along “The Wiggle”, which wins for the best named bike route EVAH. The city has recently replaced the original sharrows with the green version above. They’re bright and I love them. There is no way you could miss a turn marked with these babies.

Part 2: Seattle’s Greenwood Street Fair

Last month, Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood had their street fair. By a terrific coincidence, Hum of the City was here for a visit, staying with Family Ride! The family biking blogosphere can be such a small world some times. This time we were there at the very start of the street fair, which was a strangely gradual affair. “Oh look, they’ve closed off the street! Let’s go, kids! Whoops, there are still cars coming, get back to the side!” Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before the streets were really, truly closed to cars and the party began.

Spencer did loops. And needs his seat raised. How did he grow so quickly?
I was really happy to see Spencer and Theo have so much fun together. A lot of my Seattle bikey friends have younger kids, so he really enjoyed having a new friend his age.
Despite the difference in height, Theo is 2 weeks older than Spencer.
Family Ride, being lapped by a balance bike.
The streets were full, but not quite as crowded as at the San Francisco Fair. We ran into a number of friends with whom we had to stop and chat. There was bike decorating, a (very) brief kids’ parade,  and some fun performances, including a high rise trapeze act.

My photo doesn’t do this justice – her act involved a lot of spinning around and was a lot of fun.
The audience was enthralled.

A Hawaiian dance troupe put on a performance and let the boys try out the poi balls. The difference between poi and nunchuks is thin, particularly to 6 year old boys. Oh well, at least they were wearing helmets. Alway dance in helmets, folks – think of your brains!

Look out!

A bouquet of helmets

After a lot of street partying, we were all getting hungry. There really weren’t any street vendors, so we locked our bikes and helmets into an impressive pile and tried to get a table at a nearby restaurant. Alas the wait was long and our party was large, containing many children, so it was not to be. We had to say our goodbyes and get home before dark. It was so much fun to be out and having fun in the street and meeting friends, new and old!