Feb 212013
Errandonnee with a Twist: Biking & Walking Got It Done
For me this sign at the Auntie’s Bookstore location in River Park Square summed up what happens when you errandonnee: You’re a force for good in your local economy at the same time you’re practicing happy, healthy transportation. My photography+cell phone=bad photos–sorry!

I took a shot at the February biking challenge posed by @gypsybug on Chasing Mailboxes: the Errandonnee. Complete at least 7 different types of errand by bike and at least 30 miles and you’ve succeeded!

In addition to living a pretty low-mileage life right now, another catch I faced was a travel schedule that took me to Spokane and away from my bike in the final few days of the challenge. As I mentioned in my first errandonnee post I’m able to do errands walking as well as biking in my new downtown Seattle life so I’d almost have to manufacture errands to get me on my bike (an approach certainly not without its merits!).

I tried to figure out how I might work in a bike ride in Spokane last weekend when I was there. When I laid it out, though, it was ludicrous. I’d have to drive to my friend Betsy’s house in order to borrow a bike and then ride with her right past my starting point to get to a meeting. Putting in car mileage in order to achieve bike mileage truly defeats the purpose.

In the spirit of active transportation, therefore, I’m stretching the errandonnee definition for myself to include uses of walking to replace driving, with the same goals of mindfulness, a mix of destinations, and getting somewhere under my own steam outside in winter weather. Two wheels or two feet–it’s all good.

Magically, all those things on my list of walking errands became points toward “errandonnee light” or “errandonnee á la bike/walk.” I had already fulfilled the mileage requirement–otherwise I’d feel a trifle guilty about this approach. But it’s more work to walk a given distance than it is to bike the same distance so I definitely got some extra exercise doing it this way. (And hey, I do ride a bike because I’m lazy.)

Here’s the full list of destination types with ride/walk reports and observations noted.

  • Bike Shop: Didn’t need this and couldn’t score points. Sweet Hubs just serviced both my bikes, and Back Alley Bike Repair in the back of our office space will take care of anything else I need.
  • Breakfast or Lunch: Rode 17 miles Sunday Feb. 10 and had breakfast for lunch in West Seattle. Two lessons learned: 1) It can be sunny when you leave downtown Seattle and turn very cold and foggy once you round the point on Alki Beach. 2) When biking to eat you should always plan on having a way to carry leftovers (ended up with a foil-wrapped packet in my jacket pocket).
  • Coffee or Dessert: Rode 13 miles Saturday Feb. 9 to meet up with Sweet Hubs for coffee after he finished his team training ride. Two lessons learned: 1) I should plan ahead for tricky, busy intersections instead of relying on my smartphone navigation. Went astray 3 times making a fast choice at a Y or other decision point. 2) Also, if I go too long without riding my road bike I kind of forget how it feels and works.
  • Community Meeting (e.g., church, parent-teacher conference, board meeting):
    — Feb. 14 I walked to a meeting of the Transportation Policy Board at the Puget Sound Regional Council office, on which I serve as the representative of nonmotorized transportation. Observations: 1) The office is not even a block from where I live, but in that short span I walked through one of Seattle’s alleys (thanks for making those part of the street life, Seattle!) and 2) I had time to think about the timing of the traffic lights, which appear to be optimized for vehicular traffic along Western Ave.
    — Feb. 19 I went to a meeting of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Policy Council. I would say I biked there, except that the majority of my passage consisted of pushing my bike up the sidewalk on University, which is a steep climb from First Ave.–another way that biking and walking are two sides of the coin when it comes to running errands without driving. Note for the Chamber: It would sure be awesome if you’d ask the city to install a bike rack somewhere near the entrance. My friends at Greater Spokane Incorporated, the regional Chamber in Spokane, put one in. Just as businesses can be bike-friendly, biking is business-friendly, especially where we’re welcomed with parking.
  • Dinner: Rats! Didn’t go out to eat enough.
  • Grocery Store: Feb. 19 we had beautiful sunshine in downtown Seattle. I took a walk for a brain break/Vitamin D dose and explored the International District a bit to spot destinations for future trips by bike or foot. Along the way I stopped at Uwajimaya Village for a few groceries. Total walk was around a mile.
  • Any store that is not the grocery store:
    — On Valentine’s Day I walked a pleasant half-mile to my office specifically in order to make a shopping stop along the way to get a card and some sweet treats for my Sweet Hubs. I walked on the opposite side of the street from my usual biking route along the same stretch of street so I got to look more closely at the many little shops I’ll need to stop at someday soon. (Note to business owners: This is how people who walk and bike end up spending more money than people who drive–we see all those temptations in the windows.)
    — On Sunday, Feb. 17, I walked from our hotel in Spokane through Riverfront Park across the Spokane River, enjoying the rush of water and sunny skies, to catch up with my besty Betsy and make a run on the Nordstrom’s sale racks (hello, cashmere sweater at 50% off!).
  • Personal Care and Health (e.g., doctor, haircut, massage, gym, manicure): Even with my more open definition of errandonnee, I don’t see how I can possibly count getting a haircut in the salon that is two doors away from my home as constituting any kind of trip at all. Just lucky.
  • Library (also includes book reading): On Sunday Feb. 17 from Nordstrom’s Betsy and I headed to Auntie’s Bookstore at both locations–inside River Park Square and the original store on West Main. The total shopping loop and back to the hotel probably represented a little over 1.5 miles in winter sunshine.
  • Work: This one is too easy! I only live a half-mile from work. Observations to date: 1) I live so close to work it’s almost not worth riding, except that riding is so fun! 2) Pioneer Square has lots of traffic-calming elements that make it easier to share the street because no one is moving fast.
  • Wild Card: This was the biggest chunk of walking in the mix: the one that would have involved a car trip to turn it into a bike trip. Betsy met up with me at our hotel Monday morning Feb. 18 and we walked a four-mile round trip to Roast House Coffee, where I had a meeting to discuss the awesome Gear Grinder Blend they’ll be roasting to benefit the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (soon you’ll be able to order it online from us). A brisk walk on a cold but sunny day with wonderful organic coffee that’s beyond fair trade at the end–what could be better? Only a bike ride, if that had been feasible.

Next challenge: 30 Days of Biking in April, unless Chasing Mailboxes has something fun planned for March or I come up with something.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • When you have errands to run do you think about your transportation choices?
  • How often do you choose biking or walking?
  • What would make for a fun challenge that would get you riding new places?
What it means to buy local: Close-up from a sign in Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane. 1) You kept dollars in our economy. 2) You embraced what makes us unique. 3) You created local jobs. 4) You helped the environment. 5) You nurtured community. 6) You conserved your tax dollars.
Close-up of signage about the value of shopping locally.  5) You nurtured community. 6) You conserved your tax dollars. 7) You created more choice. 8) You took advantage of our expertise.
Signage in Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, about what you do when you buy local. 9) You invested in entrepreneurship. 10) You made us a destination.
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Reader Comments

  1. Eventually, a post to my taste. Since bike has really changed my life, i found it important to talk about the little things that differentiate life before and after riding bikes, though i usually use electric bicycles.

  2. Sounds like it’s time to leave a bike here in Spokane for you to ride when in town.

  3. Love all those ideas, Jean! Sounds like the March challenge to me…. (I’m also hoping I might get to meet @gypsybug when I’m at the Bike Summit since she’s in DC so we can hatch even more ideas.)

  4. Have we forgotten some obvious categories as optional and to encourage a broader band of wannabe (winter cyclists)?

    *School/Educational institution
    *Bank – well we do need money, small change
    *Daycare/Caregiver’s Place — for children
    *Fitness Facility,Centre (ie. for yoga class, etc.)
    *A Transit Stop –subway, light rail, bus with racks, airport! Go multi-modal!!

    I think the women’s cycling conference that you’re going, should get on board this idea as a take away for their local areas.

    Want to organize something in blogosphere so that we can prove that the cycling community/readers here collectively visit enough places to create a town, a city? 🙂 A strong message to the business community and other naysayers.

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