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Elly Blue's Posts

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Tis the season … for road rage

Nothing says, "Happy Holidays," like ...Photo: Mikey WallyMichelle Poyourow, a transportation consultant in Portland, Ore., decided to ride down Hawthorne Blvd. for just a block. She was already on the defensive -- it was a busy, fast road, and she was wearing a short skirt that day. Then it happened: "A big SUV came by and the asshole in the front seat barked at me like a dog out the window. I gave him the finger at close range, and turned and looked just in time to see that the guy in the front seat was ... a dog. A …

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A gift guide to bike stuff that people actually want

Photo: Adams CarrollI'm not going to hate on shot glasses with bikes on them or leather holsters for carrying wine bottles by bicycle, but if you want to give someone a bicycle-related gift this holiday season that is actually useful on a daily basis, this guide is for you. I'll start small and build from there. No-budget gifts I'm a fan of these. If you've got wrenching skills, offer to fix your pal's basic bike problems, like flat tires or out-of-whack derailleurs. If they're interested in bike commuting but are feeling some trepidation about the idea, offer to be their …

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Wheely, wheely thankful

Photo: iamosIn last Sunday's New York Times, columnist Mark Bittman compiled a list of people and things in the food movement he's thankful for. The bicycle movement deserves its own list. Here's a start: 1. I'm thankful for the power of bikes to enable people-powered protest movements. Bicycles have been playing a supporting role in the Occupy movement, and seem to be bringing out the best in everyone, whether used by protesters or police. 2. Free bicycles are on the rise, thanks to an international network of bike collectives. Chances are there's one near you -- find out on this …

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Sharing time: Tracking the ‘sharrow’ on city streets

A sharrow in Baltimore. Photo: Elly BlueVisiting Seattle last weekend, it was impossible not to notice that its streets are absolutely covered in sharrows. "It's almost like they polluted the streets with them," said Tom Fucoloro, proprietor of the Seattle Bike Blog, who took me on a walk through the city's Central District, pointing out its transportation features. A "sharrow" -- the word is an amalgamation of "arrow" and "share the road" -- is a larger-than-life thermoplastic symbol of a bicycle topped by two chevrons pointing the way forward. More technically known as "shared lane markings," they're intended to remind …

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The last rider: Learning to win on a 100k bike ride

David from Eugene passes a decaying farmouse on the Verboort Populaire.Photo: Elly Blue"I think the rain is really good for us as cyclists," said my friend Maria Schur. We were in her car, headed to the Verboort Populaire, an annual 100-kilometer (about 62-mile) bicycle ride west of Portland, Ore. "It's good for character development. It's okay to do stuff that's hard." As someone who's used to seeing bicycling in the rain as a necessary evil, I was less philosophical about my choice to spend this November Saturday out in the elements. I didn't know what to expect from the ride …

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Locavore-dom taken to the extreme — by bike

Photo: MetrofietsI stepped out onto my front porch one day this summer just in time to see my farmer pedaling down the street with a trailer full of tools. To an outsider, such a vision must seem like a sketch right out of Portlandia, the television show that spoofs my hometown's supposedly eccentric ways. Here in real-world Portland, however, it's a normal sight. The farm from which I get most of my vegetables, aptly named Sidewalk's End, is one of several local examples of something called "dispersed urban agriculture." Rather than farming all in one place, the two young farmers …

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True confessions of a bicycle scofflaw

Photo: mad driversOkay, confession time: I'm one of "those" cyclists. You know, the ones who are giving us all a bad name, the ones who think we're above the law, who regularly pass through stop signs without stopping -- even without slowing down very much. I even ran a red light or two in my younger, brasher days. Well, scofflaw that I am, I do get yelled at plenty. Drivers hate me! And they have every right to -- after all, as they are careful to roll down their windows and snarl or shout, with some degree of profanity -- …

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The fashionable cyclist: Why let a little rain get you down?

Photo: Madame de PeLast Friday, it was raining lightly, but that didn't stop my friend Meghan Sinnott from riding her bike up to the coffee shop where we were meeting at 8 a.m. She arrived looking professional and perfectly put together in a skirt, blazer, and wool jacket. This is typical of Meghan, a proud non-driver whose job as a social worker requires her to look presentable every day. So her appearance didn't really register until she revealed she'd just spent the night in a damp park downtown with the Occupy Portland protesters. "I came straight here," she said matter-of-factly. …

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Riding the crimson tide: bicycling when you have your period

For some, it's hard to go with the flow and cycle during the cycle.Photo: OMARPHOTOWORLDAs someone who writes about gender and cycling, I get asked a lot -- why don't more women ride bikes? My answer is usually that sexism is the problem in general, and economic inequality and the division of unpaid labor in particular. There's nothing essentially gendered about transportation choices. But every month I get blindsided by the reminder that there is one issue that really is ours and ours alone. Menstruation, while it's something most women deal with for many years of their life, is hardly …

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Bicycles at war

Photo: MontagueTwo summers ago, I stood in the grass next to my bike, watching a tall, muscly fellow demonstrate the moves he had been developing for self-defense using a bicycle. He called it Bikendo. We practiced quickly raising our front tires so the bikes stood vertically and we could use the wheels to keep distance between ourselves and our imaginary assailants. Then, as our attackers lunged at us, we stepped around the bikes and laid them on their backs, sending the bad guys into a slow motion crotch-plant over the chainring. Ouch. It turns out that bicycles can take down …

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