Category: Travels and Adventures

This past March I ventured (for the second year) to Washington, D.C. for the National Bike Summit.

For those of you unable to attend the event “in-person” I hope that the insights of these next few posts about the National Bike Summit may inspire you to go in future years or to at least check out the presentations now available online for your viewing pleasure.

This year “more than 750 attendees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces participated in the 2013 National Bike Summit!”

Let’s start from the beginning…

Upon my arrival in D.C. (much chillier this year and not a cherry blossom in bloom!), I perked up at sight of the bright red Capital Bikeshare bikes.
capital bikeshare bikes

I, however, passed by the bikeshare bikes; instead I borrowed a bike from Miriam’s friend (who graciously lent me her bike “Cherry” last year and this year – thank you!).
Cherry

Once on bike, I was equipped to join an evening bike ride organized by the group Black Women Bike. Bundled up, we cycled past several D.C. monuments before circling back to a launch party for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA)’s Women & Bicycles campaign – an outreach and education program geared to get more women on bike.

The event was full of bike love:

Plus books and such from Elly Blue and WABA:

My initial day in D.C. would set the pace for a jam-packed week of everything bike advocacy and meeting awesome bikey folks… especially meeting these other fine ladies named “Elizabeth”:

Ladies named Elizabeth

Hello hello from Buenos Aires again, bicikids. A group of friends and I (including my new pals Will and Robin from Biking Buenos Aires) were sitting around a salad pile at lunch yesterday, and we started musing about how we would regulate on the city to make bike commuting the ultimate BEST. Translation: if you were King in Da Castle in charge, what rules would you apply to your city as a bike-commuting all powerful ruler of the streets? Here are some reasonable (and unreasonable) regulations we came up with:

13 Ideas for 2013, as a Bici-Regulator:

  1. Install a “Bicipista” – like an autopista but instead of cars, only for bikes. It would stretch all across the city from Palermo to Belgrano to San Telmo.
  2. Put all the buses in the middle of the six-lane roads like the Metrobus in Mexico City, with footbridges to the bus stations at the median to keep the buses away from the bike lanes.                                                               
  3. Initiate a mandatory “bicisiesta”… if you ride your bike to work, you get a two-hour lunch, so you can eat and then have a siesta!
  4. Count the hours of your bike commute towards your 8 hour work day. Biking on the clock!
  5. Make a new rule that all apartment buildings should allow bikes in the lobby, so that residents don’t have to bring them up the elevator to store them in their apartments.
  6. All parking garages must provide secure 24 hour bike parking.
  7. Connect all bike trails to all schools: high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and universities. All bike paths should get the students where they need to go!
  8. “Bicibars” in the downtown areas: provide incentives for the bars to include bike parking and bike repair stations in the bars.
  9. Offer business incentives to make more bike kitchens and bike fixing collectives like La Fabricicleta.
  10. Let’s get harsh: Get rid of all street parking in downtown and replace it with separated bike lanes!
  11. “Bicitaxis”- illegal for taxis to cruise around certain parts of the city, so replace them all with bike taxis… hey if rickshaws work in India, this could work in Argentina, right?
  12. Replace city school buses with Bike buses, where the driver is the teacher, and all the kids pedal.
  13. Provide city wide showers, lockers, and changing rooms for all bike commuters so they can change before and after work.

 

I love lists, and I love Friday Musings. So, Bike Commuters, hit us up in the comments box if you’ve ever had some crazy ideas that you wanted to regulate in your city.

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Hey hey hey, bicipeeps. Just in case there are any readers out there who commute in the lovely city of crazy mad drivers in Buenos Aires, I wanted to give a shout out to all Porteños on bikes. Every man, woman, and poodle on a bike deserves a virtual high-five for transporting themselves around BA in (what I consider) the most smiley way possible. Let’s do a word association game for my thoughts on transit in Buenos Aires:

  1. Bus: Barf
  2. Subway: Humid Armpit
  3. Taxi: Hospital
  4. Motorcycle: Hospital
  5. Horse & Carriage: Horse Crap
  6. Walking: Dog Crap
  7. Bike: BLISS.

Well, I guess that solves it for me, bike = bliss in Buenos Aires. Check out these bicipeeps around the city in my photobarf just for you!

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Bici sticker we saw on a bike tour.

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Bike paths along the parks on Libertador, Boyfriend and I riding the Mejor en Bici bikes.

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The famous UN plaza and the metal flower scuplture – FINAL DESTINATION!

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Bike Love from Porteño artist “Mart”

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Bikes parked outside the MALBA

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Right by the Recoleta Mejor en Bici Station.

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Action basket!!! Free Yellow Bikes!

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Graffitti Panda Love for Mir.I.Am

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Translation = One Less Car, Critical Mass

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Bicipeeps in Buenos Aires

Hope you enjoyed, Bike Commuters. FYI, an update on Mejor en Bici, they recently changed the laws so tourists can also use the bikes for free! All you have to do is show up with your original passport, a copy of your passport, and register with one of the twenty-something Mejor en Bici stations in person (make sure you find a station with wifi). If anyone is around in Buenos Aires and knows about fun bike stuff, leave me some love in the comments box. Adventures and travels abroad with much bicibrazos, Mir.

 

Happy Belated Saint Valentine’s Day, Bike Commuters! After a successful start, a short-lived love affair, and a predictable break-up with the Mejor en Bici bike share program, Mir.I.Am searches for new bike love with a tour of Argentina’s Capital City through Biking Buenos Aires.

Someecards Breakup

Dear Mejor en Bici…

Sometimes commuting around the city on a free yellow bike just isn’t enough. I know, I know, did I just say that life as a Bike Commuter falls short of the fulfilling my two-wheeled bikey dreams?! Talk about first-world-problems. Wait, wait, cycle people – before you bring me to the masses and start sharpening your guillotines, let me clarify my heretic claims: as lovely as I wish the Mejor en Bici system would be, our relationship has been disappointing, stale, and uneventful. Let me make a list (list lust, yessss, lists!) of why I think the free Buenos Aires bike share and I just didn’t click.

  1. It’s not you, it’s me: Mejor en Bici, you’re free, so I have no complaints about the extent of your network.  Twenty-something stations is a good sized network. But it’s just not big enough for me. I’m just not right for you – I live in Palermo at Plaza Italia, and you have no drop off stations within 20 blocks of my internship in Villa Crespo. I might as well take the (blech) bus (barf).
  2. You never like to go out anymore: Mejor en Bici, what happened to that spark, that flare, the chemistry we shared the first time I straddled your public saddle, and you cured me of my Bikeless Butt Envy? Let’s be honest, you close at 8pm, so we never go out past sunset time. I’m looking for bike access beyond the Argentine equivalent of 9-5.
  3. I’ve met someone else: Mejor en Bici, since you’re closed on Sundays and government holidays, I’ve started looking for other ways to get my bike on. I just have so much fun on those cruiser tours from Biking Buenos Aires, that I don’t think you and I will be seeing much of each other anymore. Can we still be facebook friends?
tiny bike mercadolibre

I knew it was getting bad when I was started stalking bikes online at night.

Although it’s not a permanent solution to the recurring Bikeless Butt Envy – Biking Buenos Aires was just the kind of pick-me-up I needed this Valentine’s season.  My boyfriend, photographer friend, and I set off on a “Heart of the City” tour for 4-5 hours on one of our days off.  We enjoyed a sunny day, with easy to no traffic routes, and mostly protected bike lanes on our cruisers snapping shots of cityscapes in Buenos Aires.  Here’s a description of the tour we took from their website:

Heart of the City Tour (South City)
$60 USD per person
Available: Tue, Thur, Sat @ 9am & 3pm
Difficulty: Easy / Medium – 12mi or 19.3km
Languages: English & Spanish
~5 hours
Discover the birthplace of Argentina standing beside the oldest national monument found directly in the center of May Plaza (Plaza de Mayo).  The center stage for any demonstration, it’s no wonder why most historical events happened right here in this very spot.  Along the way we visit colorful La Boca, historical San Telmo and rich Puerto Madero.  Bondiola (pork) sandwich and yerba mate are included! Group tours leave every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9am & 3pm.

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This could be the start of a budding new romance… until the Mejor en Bici program gets their shiz together, looks like I’ll have to find alternative routes for overcoming my Bikeless Butt Envy. And, it’s not like I’m comparing the two, but let’s make another list of why Biking Buenos Aires rocks my bike socks:
  1. You treat your turistas right: Biking Buenos Aires, what a better way to discover a new city than by bike? Like slow jams on a Saturday night, you keep the pace perfect for everyone in the group. With three guides, one in front, one in back, and one in the middle, you took care of us at every turn like a true caballero.
  2. I can be myself around you: Biking Buenos Aires, I was comfortable on your sparkly blue old-school cruisers, with a sweet helmet, water bottle, and front basket… with the saddle adjusted just right – I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to take you home with me and lock you to my balcony. A perfect balance, you let me wander off and explore with my camera whenever I wanted, and reigned me back in when it was time to roll.
  3. You’ve got a great personality: Biking Buenos Aies, you’re funny, you’re friendly, and you’re smart – your guides kick butt with local history tips. With a warm welcome, we all enjoyed the genuine conversation and the buena onda along the ride. It’s not just about looks, it’s the inner beauty that counts – and you’ve got it!
Here are a couple of pics to share from the tour that won me over.

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Graffiti san telmo

La boca

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Biking la boca

Cityscapes

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Rest assured, dear readers, it’s not just a Bike Share rebound, I’ll be back for more birthday bike tours this week! Biking Buenos Aires is highly recommended for anyone looking to catch the sites and get some fresh air. Don’t worry if you forget the sunscreen, water, cookies, mate, or patch kit, because the Biking BA guides will have it all.  Catch you later, cycle gators!

Okay everyone, luckily boyfriend and I were able to sign up for the Mejor en Bici FREE bike share program all in a matter of 24 hours right here in our neighborhood in Buenos Aires!  What does that mean?  Finally my whiny bikeless butt can get some bike share action.

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Overall Impressions of the Mejor en Bici Bike Share:

  • The price is right for $Free.99
  • Service can be hit or miss
  • Good quality helmets
  • Free map of the bike routes in the city is SUPER useful
  • I wish there were more stations, since the limit is one hour at a time
  • Bikes with baskets – I love it (what can I say, easy to please)
  • Open hours are Monday-Friday, 8am -8pm; Saturdays, 10am- 3pm; and closed Sundays

And a tip to share before I get into the details… If you are riding around with a bag or purse, loop the straps around your handles before placing it in your front basket to avoid purse-snatching at stops.  A tip I learned from my friend in Paris.

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Success: How to Sign Up for Mejor en Bici

After reading this extremely useful article on Mejor en Bici from Wander Argentina, signing up was surprisingly simple.  First, we went to the Police station nearest our house (open 24 hours) and, as we are not Argentines, we needed to get a Domicile Certificate.  We paid the 10 Argentine pesos, and waited as the officer copied down our passport information and our address.  The next day at 8am, the mail man slipped the completed form under our apartment door, with signature and stamp of approval.  We took the form, and made photocopies of it and our passports and made our way to the Mejor en Bici station at Plaza Italia.

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Here is where we had a bit of a communication breakdown – the girl working the desk sent us to another station only 4 blocks away where the clerks spoke fluent English.  Apparently our Castellano was so terrible, that the first girl didn’t have the patience to fill out the forms and take our pictures.  Anyway, we had a fantastic experience in English, turned in our certificate and photocopies, and got a great little orientation session on the program.  Now, anytime we want to check out bikes for FREE, we can show up to any Mejor en Bici station, ask for a bike and helmet, and give our passport and pin # we and we’re good for up to an hour.  The bikes can be “recharged” at other stations in the city if you need more than an hour.  You can even check online for availability of bikes per station – it’s live.

So, I took it one of the clunky yellow cruisers for a ride to a meeting in another neighborhood and dropped it off at the nearest station.  The seat was a little low, and the quick release was rusted in place, so there was a lot of standing on this ride.  After I dropped off the bike, I gave them my number, then I walked another 15 minutes to the office.  Good thing I didn’t decide to keep the bike with me at the office, since the meeting went on FOREVER!  I would have received a penalty on my account for going over the hour allotted, and wouldn’t be able to use the free bike for a week.

Bike Mural Buenos Aires

Sweet bike mural en route… courtesy of whiskeyandtears.

Thus ends my short spell of Bikeless Butt Envy… Hopefully I’ll keep my butt happy by smashing it into these yellow city bicis on the regular.  If you have any bike share tips or stories for the world, post em in the comments box, below.  Bicibrazos, Bike Commuters!