Mar 312018
Errands by Bike Are a Breeze (and Sometimes Breezy): Errandonnee 2018

I know I always make it sound so easy to do things on my bicycle. But here’s the thing [whispers]: It is.

In saying this I want to acknowledge first that I have no physical barriers to biking and my job affords me at least some time flexibility so I can do something like take my lunch at a different time to get my hair cut. These are not small matters and not everyone shares my good fortune and privilege.

I also know that at some point I’ll end up with some physical limitations, possibly a full-on disability that makes it more difficult to get around by bike. Bear in mind that we all age out of driving if we live long enough. I’m glad I have embraced multimodal transportation to prepare for that day.

When I use my bike for errands I appreciate the flexibility it gives me. I’m never stuck in traffic, I can always find (free) parking, and I can leave on my own schedule. (I use transit a lot but it doesn’t offer that last feature.)

I also appreciate the predictability. My bike commute to work always takes the exact same amount of time, with the single exception of having to wait if the West Seattle Bridge is open for a ship to pass through. No one who drives in Seattle can call their drive time predictable.

Hence my statement that running errands by bike is easy-breezy. This is true even if you’re not comparing biking with Seattle drive times.

If you’ve ever driven two miles to get somewhere to pick up one item, then spent ten minutes circling and looking for a parking spot, then spent more time paying for parking and walking to your destination, just know that you could have done it all much faster and cheaper if you had biked.

Winter weather, however, sometimes has me doing more bike + transit than bike-only transportation. Thus errandonnee — a challenge to run 12 errands in 12 days and rack up at least 30 miles by bike/walk/run — inspires some extra outings at a time of year when the weather can be tricksy. Charles Dickens nailed it:

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Errandonnee Report

March 20: To the garden store. Sunny when I left the house late afternoon, temperature dropping quickly as I rode home with a lumpy load of blooming hyacinths and grape hyacinths, long tube of weed blocker, bulbs (lilies, lily-of-the-valley, and something else I can’t recall that’s now in pots on the front porch), tape for tying up my tomato plants when the time comes.

Categories: You Carried WHAT?! (Note: People who don’t bike are always more impressed with what you’re able to haul than people who do this kind of thing all the time. This is not a particularly impressive load.)

Mileage: 3.0 (I got it wrong in the tweet below)

March 21: To work in the morning, then later to a haircut and back really racked up the miles.

On the way back from the haircut I needed to participate in a meeting via phone so I walked the bike a while, muting whenever I wasn’t talking so the other participants didn’t have to listen to traffic noises.

Categories: Work, Personal Care, Wild Card (a phone meeting held while pushing your bike fits this — traffic noise felt a little wild to other participants on the call).

Errand count: 4

Mileage: 16.5 (running total: 19.5)

March 22: A drizzly day. I left at the time that gave me the option of riding if I felt like it depending on the weather — whether I bike or bike/bus it takes the same amount of time to get downtown. Biked to the bus stop, bus to downtown (which yielded a really cool picture taken out the window), biked to the annual breakfast for Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, then back to the office afterwards.

A couple of extra-nice moments:

  • When I stopped to take the pic of the Duwamish Trail graffiti a passing rider asked if everything was all right. I like the way bike people look out for each other — sure felt it when I crashed and broke my elbow on a trail and so many helpers appeared.
  • During the breakfast — a celebration of decades of work to preserve beautiful green spaces for everyone to enjoy — King County Executive Dow Constantine specifically mentioned both equity and trail connectivity as legacies we can create for generations to come.

  • When I left the Hyatt at Olive 8 parking garage (which is to be commended for its big lineup of bike racks under shelter) and exited via the alley, I came out right onto Pine with a new bike lane. From there the entire length of my ride through downtown Seattle to Pioneer Square took place on infrastructure either designed specifically for bicycling, or having the effect of creating shared street spaces that can be reasonably comfortable for all. Thank you, Seattle DOT, for the changes I see every day and the people who preserved Pioneer Square and Occidental Square’s beautiful brick.
  • On my reverse bike/bus/bike to get home in the evening I rode an extra half-mile because the book I was reading kept my attention engaged past my usual stop — another reason to be glad I bike.

Categories: Peaceful Everyday Action

Errand count: 5

Mileage: 3.5 (running total: 23)

Semi-related reading: Bike, Transit Car: Three Transportation Perspectives from Seattle and Keep Your Weather Eye Open

March 25: Sunny + breezy + shifting cloud cover. Perfect day for a quick grocery store run. Also apparently a perfect day to forget I was still wearing my bike helmet until I was at least halfway through the produce section. Points for comfort to the designers.

Categories: Store

Errand count: 6

Mileage: 4.3 (running total: 27.3)

Definitely related reading: Grocery Run: Impossible! and Not Even Fully Loaded: Another Grocery Run


March 27: A change of venue — headed to Olympia for meetings, took my bike so I could leave the car parked and do all my transportation to and from meetings on two wheels. I’m fortunate to be able to crash with biking friends Stefanie Reynolds and Corey Thompson (of the custom steel frames, should you be in the market). They’re wonderful hosts signed up with Warm Showers if you happen to be a bike traveler on the way through Olympia.

Categories: Social

Errand count: 7

Mileage: 3.5 (running total: topped the 30-mile goal here at 30.5)

March 28: Another day of rides for work and social purposes — more hanging out with Stef and Corey.

Categories: Work, Social

Errand count: 9

Mileage: 1.75 (running total: 33.25)

March 29: A ride from a second day-long workshop on pedestrian safety back to my car before driving to Seattle counted for me as a Peaceful Everyday Action as I got some processing time on the bike to think about all I’d learned and discussed in the past two days.

Categories: Peaceful Everyday Action

Errand count: 10

Mileage: 4.7 (running total 37.95)

Related reading: Seeing with New Eyes

March 31

I started to get a little worried since I realized I don’t usually have 12 errands to run in any given time frame if I can’t count some categories more than twice. But it worked out — slipped under the wire with a run to get some cash needed to pay the woman who tailored a coat for me to take in its boxiness. Bonus: The day was gorgeous and I got to revel in the feeling of flying along on the downhills, feeling strong(ish) on the uphills.

Categories: Non-Store Errand x 2

Errand count: 12

Mileage: 5.35 (final total 43.3 miles)

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