Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cycling has advantages among commuting options

Side view of bicycles attached on either side of 'staple'-shaped bike rack element

If you’re a person who is motivated by personal benefit when evaluating available options: here’s an important consideration for weighing your commuting choices.

Monday, November 28, 2016

North Bay offers many transportation options

SMART Train travels through Santa Rosa rail crossing

If there was a “theme” to our Thanksgiving-weekend visit back to California’s North Bay, it was the ease with which we were able to get around via “active” and public transportation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dakota Access Pipeline: If you drive, you support it

Groups I subscribe to, urge “bearing witness” and solidarity for Standing Rock Sioux activists who oppose construction of a new Dakota Access Pipeline to deliver fossil fuels.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Oregon Drive Less Challenge, Oct. 1 to 15

Two bicycles attached to a bike rack. Text in upper-right corner states, 'For each mile not driven: 0.98 fewer lbs of CO2s are released into our environment.' In lower-right corner, text states, 'Figures according to Washington State Department of Transportation'

Whenever people talk to me about traveling to downtown Ashland, the hassle of finding a parking space invariably comes up. With the “Oregon Drive Less Challenge,” I’d like to propose a less-stressful scenario.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rail transit and pathway, Santa Rosa to San Rafael

Bright green SMART Train parked at outdoor station that is decorated by row of lampposts
Source of image: Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit on Facebook
In northern California, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) is testing its passenger trains and signal systems along an initial 43-mile route between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. When completed, this passenger-rail and pedestrian and bicycle pathway project will serve a 70-mile corridor from Larkspur to Cloverdale. My family and I closely followed this project's development when we lived in the north Bay, and with our ongoing support of viable alternatives to automobile use, the SMART Trains continue to hold our interest. The #TrackSMART tips being shared via social media seem particularly relevant too, whether passenger or freight trains make regular trips through our respective communities.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bicycle commuting: Bag-and-rack essential

Trunk bag secured to rear bike rack. A portion of the bike's rear tire is visible beneath. A folded paper is tucked inside the trunk bag's mesh side pocket and a rolled up hat is tucked into a mesh pocket and bungee cords on the top of the bag. In the upper left, the image includes a portion of a bike rack and the frame of a second bike and helmet.

As a full-time bike commuter, I completely rely on a bag-and-rack system to give me transport capacity. The Topeak Super Tourist DX rear rack and MTX trunk bag provide essential components of my daily rides.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bike commute ‘inspires’ Library Journal editorial director

Bicycling for part of her commute has inspired Library Journal editorial director Rebecca T. Miller “to think even more about how we build, promote sustainable practices, and urge people toward healthy, physical engagement with where they are.” It’s great to see libraries involved in encouraging livability. I urge library systems to follow the examples highlighted in Miller’s editorial, to help create car-culture alternatives by hosting bike-share locations.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

‘Very small library branch on wheels’

Book cabinet atop bicycle trailer, open to display cabinet shelves filled with books
Image credit: L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
At Biking Librarians, a public Facebook group, Peter Rudrud posted news of what is essentially a “very small library branch on wheels,” a custom-built trailer pulled by a bicycle, holding about 100 items.

I would love to see more library systems create their own equivalents of the BookBike at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wis.

“The BookBike gives librarians a new way to connect with residents of all ages, showcase the library’s digital content, provide an unexpected library experience, and give a fresh perspective of the public library.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

RVTD testing ‘eFare’ option

Cynthia M. Parkhill's 'Bitstrips' cartoon avatar stands using mobile phone in front of bus shelter on city street
Bus fares by phone. Cartoon image created with Bitstrips
Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) seeks regular bus riders to help test an eFare option, which will allow riders to pay fares by phone or reusable card.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Public art studio, via bus and on-foot

Cynthia M. Parkhill and Jonathan Donihue holding painted mug, angled so that painting of a black cat is facing outward toward viewer

To celebrate the resumption of Saturday bus services, we caught Rogue Valley Transit’s Route 10 from Ashland into Medford, then spent a few hours on-foot. During our ramblings, we discovered The Artist in You, a do-it-yourself creative space fronting E. McAndrews Road on the block between Poplar Drive and Biddle Road. (The studio is in Bear Creek Plaza with its address listed as 1110 Biddle Road.) I love the idea of a walk-in public art studio, and The Artist in You provides ceramic shapes, paintbrushes and a broad range of colors. Once people finish their projects, the projects are kiln-fired for later pick-up. Here we are with our mug, painted with a design that features our sweet cat Starfire.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bike advocates offer free repairs at library

Via I Love Libraries, relating news reported by The Red and Black in Athens, Ga.: BikeAthens, a bicycle advocacy group, offered free bicycle repair, safety checks and helmets at the Athens-Clarke County Library. The news report relates that BikeAthens’ goal is to “promote walking, cycling and public transit as solutions to transportation needs in Athens through education, advocacy and community service.” This is a great melding of advocacy for bicycling with the importance of libraries.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Service expansions aboard RVTD

Rogue Valley Transportation District bus
Image source: Rogue Valley Transportation District on Facebook
As a regular rider of Rogue Valley Transportation District’s Route 10 that travels between Ashland and Medford, I look forward to a resumption of Route 10 frequency to every 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

RVTD offers free bus service July 9

Bus emblazoned with slogans on its side that read, 'RVTD helps our community go ... Go ... green, healthy, learn, out, heal, work. RVTD gives medical patients nearly 90,000 rides a year. Students get more than 130,000 rides to school a year. 8,000 people a week ride the bus to work. RVTD is good for our community.'
Source of image: RVTD on Facebook
If you haven’t yet tried public transit in Jackson County, Oregon, the Saturday-service “grand opening” celebration on Saturday, July 9, offers a perfect opportunity. July 9 is the first day that Saturday routes resume following successful passage in the May 17 election of a levy supporting the Rogue Valley Transportation District. In celebration, RVTD will offer free bus service all day on July 9, and a party takes place from 10 a.m. to noon at RVTD’s Front Street Station in Medford. Live music, games and activities, food, community booths and more are part of the planned celebration.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Calistoga and Santa Rosa need genuine bus connection

Sonoma County Transit bus parked curbside
Source of image: County of Sonoma
As a former area resident who relied on public transportation, I’ve been interested in the subject of public transportation between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. So I read with interest as the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce established its Employee Shuttle Program for Santa Rosa residents aboard Beau Wine Tours’ luxury coaches.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hat from ‘cycle-hacked’ garments

'Newsboy' style hat with crown assembled from varigated panels of sunflowers-on-green-check, pale green lace over pale green backing fabric and dark green-on-green embroidered fabric. The hat band is bias-cut sunflower-and-check. The visible upper bill is pale green lace over backing fabric. The hat sits atop a folded sleeveless dress of the sunflower-and-green-check print and a dark-green embroidered tunic with a yellow-gold embroidered and appliqued neckline border

Talk about a win-win situation: I chop the hemline of a dress or long tunic so that I can wear it, paired with pants or leggings, while I ride on my bicycle. This saves garments that, while loved, might otherwise never be worn because they weren’t biking-compatible. Here, leftover fabric from recent alterations found purpose of their own when assembled into a “newsboy” hat. The crown, band and brim of the hat were assembled out of fabric from a sunflower-print dress, an embroidered long tunic and a long lace skirt. Shown with it are “cycle-hacked” garments that contributed its fabric.

Who needs a car when we’ve got a wagon?

Man in orange jacket and wide-brimmed off-white hat pulling red wagon with flower pot up residential street bordered by bushes with red flowers and, behind him, trees

I don’t mind in the least if we become known as those people who walk around town pulling a “little red wagon.” Sometimes hauling gear is inevitable — as in this instance of walking home with gardening supplies. The cloth-over-steel-frame wagon is lightweight and collapsible; it takes up next to no space when it’s being stored but when set up, it can carry up to 150 pounds. During this weekend alone, we brought donated books down to the Ashland public library and, on on the return trip, brought home a gardening pot. Who knows how many wagon sales we are responsible for; seems whenever we go out, someone who is on-foot like us, comments that (s)he needs one too.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

‘Ride and Roam’ in downtown Ashland, Ore.

Man and woman stand side-by-side and smiling in front of a door Cynthia M. Parkhill, wearing short-sleeved navy blue dress with colorful bicycle screen-printed vertically up one side of the skirt

During a walk in downtown Ashland yesterday, we discovered “Ride and Roam,” a shop specializing in apparel for bicyclists, motorcyclists and outdoors. Owned by Adam and Marina Borowy, the store is celebrating its first weekend open at 72 N. Pioneer St. The business also accepts orders online at As of our visit, in-store merchandise was still arriving and being stocked, but one item present was this “cycling fish” dress, created by Clockwork Gears. Jonathan and I look forward to return visits and wish this local business much success.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

RVTD: Saturday bus service resumes July 9

Saturday service returns July 9, 2016 aboard Rogue Valley Transportation District buses. Unofficial results for the May 17 election in Jackson County, Ore. show 61.44 percent in favor of a levy to support RVTD. Speaking as someone who commutes full time by either walking, bicycle or bus, I look forward to being able once again to ride the bus on Saturdays between Ashland and Medford. It’s certainly proven doable to hop on our bicycles to make this round-trip, and the ride is especially enjoyable along the Bear Creek Greenway. But to make what essentially becomes a several-hours’ trip, we have to budget effort and time. It will be nice to have the option again of being able to travel by bus, with or without our bicycles.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Exercise bikes in library

Row of three stationary bikes with laptop workstations arranged against a wall in an office-building setting
Photo courtesy of Troy University Libraries
Highlighted in the May 2016 issue of American Libraries: Troy University Libraries in Troy, Ala. equipped exercise bikes with stations for laptop computers so students can work out while studying. “I want students to view our libraries as places where they want to be,” writes Christopher Shaffer, dean of library services, in his essay for American Libraries. “I like the idea of them coming in, checking out a video for pleasure, and watching it on their computer while they exercise for an hour. If they enjoy being at the library for reasons other than academics, maybe they will be more comfortable visiting the library — and approaching librarians — in the future.”

Also posted to Cynthia Parkhill: Library Assistant, Volunteer and Advocate

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pockets, lots of ’em, essential for bicyclists’ clothing

Woman and man standing next to each other, wearing vests over their clothing. The woman has a green vest on over a brown shirt and is wearing a green and brown 'newsboy' styled hat. The man has a black vest on over a green shirt
If essential bicyclists’ clothing could be summed up with one word, that one word would be, “pockets.” And lots of ’em.

Tossing assorted belongings into the trunk of a car is not an option for us, so we have to think about storing and transporting what we need for the day.

Here are Jonathan and me wearing “RFID Travel Vests for Men,” manufactured by SCOTTeVEST. We purchased our vests from Travel Essentials, a travel store in downtown Ashland.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Rogue Valley Transit measure on May 17 ballot

Photo by rickie22 on Flickr. Reused under terms of Creative Commons
Now that ballots have been mailed out to Jackson County, Oregon residents, I hope that locals will consider voting for 15-141, a “Local Option Tax” to support operation of Rogue Valley Transportation District. It’s the only item on the reverse side of my nonpartisan ballot, so be sure to check both sides.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cargo shorts redeem cargo skirt’s cycling ‘fail’

Retailer's image of olive green cargo shorts with drawstring waist, front pockets and button front-side pockets
My transition into a full-time cyclist came with a learning curve, specifically concerning which clothes work, which clothes don’t work but can be made better and which clothes will NEVER work.

In the case of clothing that will NEVER work, I have to simply start over.

A cargo skirt from an online retailer fell into the NEVER-work category. The skirt was great! It had plenty of pockets, which were definite pluses to a person who does not want to be encumbered by carrying a bag. But the skirt also offered too little room to move in, for me to safely ride my bicycle.

If it was simply a matter of length, I could have worked with the skirt by wearing it with leggings or such. But being difficult to move in, sealed the skirt’s fate.

I sent the skirt back to the online retailer and opted instead for shorts that came with all the same wonderful features: My favorite color! Plenty of pockets! But in contrast to the skirt, the shorts provide an advantage of being easy to move in on a bicycle. And that makes all the difference.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rogue Commute Challenge

Side view of bicycles attached on either side of 'staple'-shaped bike rack element

In the spirit of reducing our carbon footprint, of enhancing personal wellness and honoring the interdependent web of life, I'm asking co-workers if they'd be interested in forming “Rogue Commute Challenge” teams.

Local businesses form teams and from May 9 to 15, participants log their walking, biking, carpooling, teleworking and transit trips into the “DriveLessConnect” database.

At the end of the week, trip miles and team participation will be totaled and a Rogue Valley workplace will be declared winner of the 2016 challenge. Individual participants are also eligible for prizes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter cycling depends on infrastructure, maintenance

In winter, non-cyclists often volunteer their opinion that it’s too cold or too wet to ride — in spite of being confronted by the contrary evidence of my being out and about by bicycle.