Drive Like Your Family Lives Here

You’ve probably seen campaigns like it.  New York City ran one aimed at cab drivers and city workers.  Their video is heart-wrenching.  Or another one: Slow Down – My Mommy/Daddy Works Here.

Tragedies occur daily on our streets.  And collectively we try to ignore them.  They’re just numbers.  If we think about them too much, we find our way of life attacked, so we avoid doing so.  These campaigns force us to think about them.  They (re-)humanize the tragedies.

What if you were about the drive a route and you absolutely knew that you would be crossing paths with your family?  What would you do?  Would it be different than if you knew you would be crossing paths with someone outside of your family?

I recently had this “opportunity”.  Michelle and the kids were coming back from the store, and I was heading out.  I didn’t know if they were on foot or bike, but they were coming.  It wasn’t just a “maybe”; we had exchanged texts before I left and they had left the store.  Maybe this is more common for those with different travel patterns, but the certainty of it struck me.  And so I was confronted with the questions:  What would I do?   Would it be different from normal?

The biggest thing was that I was confronted by the power of the motor vehicle.  We talk about it, but here it was.  If I made one stupid mistake…  Such power just shouldn’t be wielded haphazardly, yet how often it is.  I’d be lying if I said this situation had absolutely no effect on my driving, but I was happy to find that the effect was pretty small.  The route has a curve that puts the left A-pillar in a terrible spot.  That freaked me out, but I usually peak around it constantly.  I went slowly, maybe a MPH or two slower than usual, but not a huge amount.

It was a good educational experience.  I darn well should continue looking around that curve.  I can slow down more than usual.  Even when I’m in a hurry.  And on other streets too.  And I can continue to minimize the trips that I take by car.  It’s worth it.

The toddlers waved from the bike.  My family was behind me, but others were ahead.

What if we protested cars like we protest everything else?

Car hearing January 30

A group called Citizens for a Livable Waterfront (CLW) has formed to oppose a vehicle operation proposed at Carillon Point in Kirkland, and has hired a noise consultant to testify at a public hearing to be held on January 30 at Kirkland City Hall.

The group is concerned about the noise disturbance to homes, parks, and businesses along the driving path. Although a noise study has not been conducted, the City of Kirkland’s Planning Department recently issued an environmental “determination of non-significance,” which CLW has appealed. At the public hearing in January, the hearing examiner will consider both the appeal and the permit application. CLW is asking that the permit applicant, Carillon Properties, be required to conduct a noise study.

Carillon Properties is requesting that Seattle-based Diamond Parking Services be allowed to offer car storage year-round from 9 am to dusk. The initial request is for one lane to access the storage location: a batch of arrivals in the morning, a batch of departures in the evening, and some passes along the lakefront during the day. The parking operation would require a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit.

Shoreline regulations are intended to protect human health as well as the natural environment. Local governments define conditional uses that are not preferred or allowed outright but may be permitted when specified conditions are met. The State Department of Ecology has the final say.

A CLW member says, “The waterfront is what makes Kirkland special. People come here to enjoy the parks, trails, restaurants, and waterfront activities. Car noise is intrusive. Once we allow a car operation, we can never go back. We are asking that the city put the brakes on and allow time for a thorough noise review and community conversation.”

The group points out that there are already parking operations in nearby Kenmore, and in Seattle. They are also concerned that if a permit is issued, the number of trips could increase over time. The President of the Bellevue Downtown Association says that is exactly what has happened there, and adds, “Once the cars are in, they are almost impossible to get out.”

Before it was shut down in late 2016, the cars were operating without a permit. The city received over 100 letters opposing the car operation, many from residents stating that the noise made it impossible to have conversations inside their homes even with the windows closed.

Numerous studies indicate the harmful effects of noise in our daily lives. Former U.S. Surgeon General William H. Stewart said in 1978, “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”

One study in the Southern Medical Journal stated: “The potential health effects of noise pollution are numerous, pervasive, persistent, and medically and socially significant. The aim of enlightened governmental controls should be to protect citizens from the adverse effects of [noise] pollution.” Kirkland Councilmember Toby Nixon believes that “A fundamental purpose of government is to protect people’s right to be able to peacefully enjoy the use of their own property.”

Noise is not the only concern. The owner of Perfect Roll, which rents bicycles and skateboards at Houghton Beach Park, just north of Carillon Point, is concerned about safety, and losing business due to the cars. “I had a couple of close calls personally,” he said, “and I’m good at maneuvering. If customers are afraid to go on the roads, it affects my bottom line. One mom said, ‘Would you let your kids play on a road? Shouldn’t everyone get off of the road when the cars are driving?’”

In a letter to the City of Kirkland, Eastside Audubon Society stated that the organization is opposed to the parking operation because of the danger to protected wildlife. “The cars would be too disruptive to birds resting and feeding along the shore, especially over the winter months. This area of Lake Washington is a major wintering ground for many species such as dark-eyed juncos.”

[based on https://kirklandviews.com/opinion/seaplane-hearing-january-30/]

Dear Signals People: Pedestrian movements don’t conflict with each other

And this isn’t even about scrambles (a.k.a. the Barnes Dance) and diagonal crosswalks.

No, it’s simpler.  People walking in different crosswalks aren’t going to crash into each other and hurt or kill themselves.  They’re not cars.

However, we treat them that way because people are an afterthought in signal design.  Here are two examples from Redmond, WA.

#1: NE 51st St. and 156 Ave NE

A little context: North is up in the image.  SR 520 is to the west (hence the slip lane to keep it highway-like), Microsoft and low-rise apartments are to the south, single-family housing and a minor arterial are to the east, and single-family homes and lots of rat running (a story for another time) are to the north.

51st-base

We’ll concentrate on traffic from the north and south.  For car reasons, these are separated into two straight-and-left signals.  Traffic from the north goes first, then from the south, and then the east/west phases.  Pedestrians are given a green when they can be hit by right-turning but not left-turning cars.

During PM rush hour, there isn’t a lot of car traffic from the north, but sometimes people want to use the crosswalk on the west side of the intersection.  When this happens, the car traffic, if it even exists, clears out quickly, but of course there is a long pedestrian count because the intersection is large.  During this time, people driving figure out that no cars are moving, and the right-turns-on-red heading to the east begin:

51st-from-n-x

Now there’s a stream of cars making that turn (generally without stopping) when the signal changes, which means that if you’re a person trying to cross on the east side of the intersection, there are cars moving across the crosswalk when you get a green.  Or effectively a leading car interval.

Better would be to end the useless car green during the pedestrian crossing is occurring.  Then the eastside crossing could overlap with the west side:

51st-ped-n-s

Then when the west side crossing is done, the intersection can transition into the normal phase that allows traffic from the south to go.  And you get a leading pedestrian interval for free.

#2 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE and NE Marymoor Way (Sammamish River Trail crossing)

marymoor-base

A little context: North is up in the image.  I’ll refer to northwest as north (and so on).  North/south is a major arterial.  To the east is Marymoor Park, which has light traffic unless there is an event.

There isn’t a marked crosswalk or pedestrian signal across the north side.  The south side is matched with turns (but no conflicts!).  The east side gets the usual conflict with right turns.

As before, the turn pockets are exhausted before the pedestrian phase is finished (5 lane crossing!), so everyone else sits idle:

marymoor-ped-ew-x

Instead, the east side crosswalk could be activated, and again this would give a leading pedestrian interval before the turning traffic starts:

marymoor-all-ped

And shouldn’t the major trail be getting priority here anyway?

Walking Routes to Bellevue Have Gone from Bad to Nonexistent

I ran down to Bellevue today with the stroller as a cargo hauler for stops at Uwajimaya and Total Wine, and wow are things in bad shape.  I don’t think I can make this trip anymore until things settle down.

Here are the blockages that I know about from this trip:

bmap1

120th Ave (location “A”) is completely closed to cars and people.  It’s a giant construction site with machinery everywhere.

124th Ave (location “B”) is a pretty terrible street to begin with.  Sidewalks are mostly missing.  It has large shoulders that one might use, but a lot of them are taken up by trucks.  And some of the few stretches of sidewalk are closed (in the distance you can see a truck blocking the right-side shoulder):

I don’t have a lot of optimism for the Spring District’s transit/bike/walk friendliness.  One of the exits is mostly complete:

The fence is at the existing sidewalk location, so the intersection is going to be huge.  Multiple exit lanes will help ensure car dependence in the area.  And it doesn’t look very good for bike infrastructure.  But I suppose I digress…

116th Ave has no access at all from the north or east because of the intersection at Northup and the other 116th Ave (location “C”).  Zooming in:

bmap2

The northwest corner of the intersection is completely closed to pedestrians as well as the sidewalks leading to it.  This means the crosswalks along the north and west sides of the intersection are unusable.  There isn’t a crosswalk or a signal along the east side of the intersection.  And if you try to go an intersection to the east, you’ll then discover that the south side of Northup doesn’t have a sidewalk.  You might be able to stumble through construction cones and gravel.  (It eventually will have a sidewalk, but a future sidewalk doesn’t make for a very good detour today.)

[Update: September 14th, 2016:

I went back and looked at that south side of Northup again.  There is a temporary path on the shoulder that is guarded by traffic pylons.  One could walk through here.  When I looked during my previous trip, it didn’t register as a possible route.  One could probably get a single stroller through, but a double or a wheelchair would be difficult.  Here are some pictures:

If you come down 24th, then there is a detour sign pointing this way, but if you come down 116th from Kirkland, then you get this confusing sign:

The busy intersection doesn’t have a crosswalk to the left of the picture, and to the right is the wrong direction.

]

The end result of this is that 116th, 120th, and 124th are unusable.  The next crossing to the west is at 108th (a half mile west and you have to backtrack north).  The next crossings to the east are at 130th and 132nd (almost a half mile east), which also have intermittent sidewalks but hopefully no construction.

The hope for the area is supposed to be the ERC (Eastside Rail Corridor), which Kirkland, Bellevue, and King County have all shown interest in opening to people (especially Kirkland with the CKC (Cross Kirkland Corridor)).  However, at this point it looks like this stretch is going to be held hostage by Sound Transit for years or decades.

In other words, don’t try to walk in Bellevue.

 

I Quit Bike-Commuting

In fact, I’ve quit riding pretty much anywhere with the exception of our church and family outings. There are a variety of reasons, but I’ll be blunt with the main one. Bike infrastructure on the east side is terrible, and I don’t want to deal with it anymore at commute times. WSDOT, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue are all part of this. WSDOT and Redmond make my commute miserable, which would be a common ride. Kirkland is puttering along with their Transportation Master Plan which says that biking is important unless it involves doing anything involving traffic (but maybe, just maybe, I’m hearing baby steps – the 100th Ave project is a big test). And Bellevue is Bellevue (though surprisingly there is some hope that Bellevue doesn’t want to be Bellevue anymore).

On the bright side, I’m running to most places that I need to be. Pedestrian infrastructure, while not very good, isn’t as bad as bicycle infrastructure. Plus, of course, running is my hobby. So I can understand why almost all east side bicyclists are hobbyists, which is an almost insignificant group as far as trip mode share is concerned. I can also take Metro 245 to a number of places, but that’s about it for reasonable transit.

The Route Itself

Anyways, let’s go back to the bike commute. It’s a bit under 4 miles in each direction: Old Redmond Rd to 152nd Ave to the 520 trail. There’s about 150 feet of climbing to work and 300 feet to get back home. I’m not going to discuss other deterrents in this post, but relevant to the infrastructure complaint is that there would be less climbing if the best route topographically didn’t consist of arterials with no bike infrastructure. 148th Ave is more direct and much flatter than 152nd/520 trail, but it’s a five lane 40 mph arterial. Here’s the route:

There are 3 major intersections going down Old Redmond Road (132nd, 140th, 148th). They provide three different examples of unprotected intersections, none of which work. 132nd maintains paint-only bike lanes through the intersection; here you can get right-hooked (just came across this today).

140th ends the bike lane before the intersection; here you get to play with cars.

148th has a slip lane (a.k.a. freeway onramp); here you get run over by moving in a blind spot (but at least the main intersection doesn’t have any right turns).

Outside of the intersections, Old Redmond Road is still fairly stressful. I think I would probably be ok riding by myself (but definitely not with the kids) if it actually had 5 foot painted bike lanes. However, it doesn’t. At best it reaches 5 feet counting the gutter, and in a lot of places it is narrower. There is also a manhole cover gauntlet. The car lane is better, but there are strategically placed covers to get you there too. Switching back and forth between the bike lane and the car lane would be best but only if you get the right breaks in traffic. Or you can ride the brakes and hope you don’t wipe out on them.

This is just between 132nd and 140th:







and coming back up the hill isn’t a whole lot better. The second one is particularly problematic because the road dips steeply from the white line to the cover.


Of course it continues after 140th (the third has been improved but not moved):


After 148th, the lane is so narrow that the bike stencil doesn’t fit!



The neighborhood streets between Old Redmond Road and the 520 trail work well. They are fairly quiet, and Redmond recently painted sharrows. This is a case where sharrows “work” because they provide a reminder on a street that already works. While the streets are too wide, as pretty much all of our residential streets are, the stop sign and turn seem to be enough to keep car traffic over on 154th (which sadly is a classic “residential arterial”).



The 520 trail is nice, though on the narrow side when the racers are blasting down the hill (the direction of these pictures is the reverse of how I’ve been describing the route):



However, it is also plagued by terrible intersections at 51st and 40th. These are the scariest part of the commute and why I can’t take WSDOT or Redmond seriously when they talk about bicycling. These are easily the biggest reasons why I avoid bike-commuting.

51st:

40th:

I counted 11 near misses in 2 hours when I did the pedestrian/bicycle count last year. I wrote a lot about the details of 40th back here (note that 51st is a copy of the geometry of 40th though not as busy). There have been minor changes since then. The order of the signal phases at 40th was changed with a positive effect. The right turn pocket to the 520 on-ramp is now cleared right before the trail signal. Previously the trail signal would provide the first “opening” for right-turns-on-red. Also, at some expense, the curbs on the corners for the trail were slightly adjusted to improve angles. This has had fairly little effect as far as I can tell.

There are some obvious real improvements that could be made here. A real curb bulb on the on-ramp (since the on-ramp is two lanes wide, maybe the opening could be reduced to two lanes wide too) is what the previous curb adjustment should have been. There is no reasonable excuse for allowing either right-turn-on-red across the trail. Allowing right-turn-on-green across a trail green is equally inexcusable. But time and time again, we are told that car traffic is more important. How many people avoid biking because of these decisions?

The magic solution for 40th is a state-funded tunnel (and a separately funded bridge across 520).  These will be huge improvements, but there are three problems. (1) There are no plans for improving safety before the tunnel project is finished. We know how to make improvements today. (2) There are no plans for improving 51st. I can’t get to the tunnel at 40th if I can’t get past 51st. (3) The funding story for ped/bike improvements is so broken that a tunnel is a huge amount of money to spend.  We know how to fix this intersection and every other, and it would take very little money to do so. Paint, planters, and posts, and a willingness to slow down the cars would significantly improve safety at a price of some car throughput. How many intersections could we fix for the cost of this tunnel?

These intersections are unsafe because of cars, not people biking and walking. The funding for making the intersection safer should not come out of ped/bike funding, it should come out of general transportation funding. If we really cannot impact car throughput for safety, then the tunnel is a car throughput project, not a safety project. A tunnel isn’t the only way to improve this intersection, but it is the one that doesn’t impact car throughput.

I don’t believe that WSDOT and Redmond are serious about road safety at all.  The evidence at places like 51st simply doesn’t allow it. Instead the tunnel was a single project aimed at shutting up the safety advocates – or just another piece of pork – so that a massive roads package could be passed.

More Transportation Logistics from 520 Go Long / Grand Opening

Beyond the bridge itself, the 520 grand opening events led to a number of transportation choices, some of which worked better than others.  Michelle already discussed getting herself and the kids to the family event and the trip back home.  I had to pick up a race packet and go to the early morning race, and the day gave me some more thoughts on buses that I wanted to write about.  The first section is just about an eastside bus trip.  The second is about the trip into Seattle.  The final is about buses in general.

My race report is available here.

Race Packet Pickup

I generally like to pick up my race packet before race morning in order to simplify race day plans.  As you’ll see in the next section, this was especially true for this one.  There was an eastside packet pickup at the unfortunately located Road Runner Sports.  It’s on Northup Way in Bellevue, a running store about 3 miles from our house that I’ve never been to for exactly that reason.  It’s completely inaccessible by bike.  Running there would normally be the obvious choice for me, but ironically my race preparation already had given me a hard run that morning and I wasn’t looking to double.  I don’t feel particularly bad about not having the chance to run down Northup’s sidewalks (where they exist anyway).  I decided to look into the buses.  Generally I only ride the 245 and the B because they give me one seat rides to/from home or work, so this would be some new routes for me.

Here’s the route that I ended up using:

520-pickup-map

marked up route image from Metro’s system map

I started in the SE corner with a half mile walk to the 249.  The 249 runs every half hour, which is terrible and must be timed well.  As is often the case, One Bus Away had no information about the bus.  I managed to arrive 5 minutes early, and it was only 1 minute late.  The drop-off was only one driveway away from the running store, and the person driving a car out of that driveway even stopped!  So far so good.

As I was walking up to the store, I got an email that packet pickup has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.  I later heard a rumor that it was due to some “Bellevue traffic thing”.  I don’t know if that was accurate, but with hundreds (at least?) of people picking up packets, it’s obvious that a parking lot would never work and the line would spill out on Northup.  So it’s plausible that this was deemed unacceptable because of commuters.  Cars.  Anyways, the pickup was still going on, and I was successful.

At this point, I could have ridden the 249 back to my usual 245 to home, but the half hour schedule made this unattractive.  If I were more savvy I would have decided on-the-fly and possibly fit in some browsing to make this work.  Instead I did a bit of browsing and headed over to the 234/5, either of which would work and run every half hour, where of course I barely missed one after jogging the half mile or so.  This left a scheduled 10 minute wait, which became about 15 minutes with very little warning from OBA (stuck in traffic just nearby or bad OBA data, who knows…).  This took me to Houghton, where I had another half mile jog to catch a 245 (or have another 15 minute wait).

In the end, I had about a half hour trip to get there and 45-50 minutes to then get home, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t been willing or able to jog.  This is pretty bad as these trips just weren’t that far.  It’s a somewhat difficult trip because Bridle Trails State Park leaves a void in the transit map.  In retrospect, driving early in the afternoon would have been a better trip, but that would have meant driving to work too.  It’s easy to see how people end up driving everywhere.

Getting to the Race

This was tricky.  The scheduled race time was 7:30am, which meant that I wanted to be there around 6:30.  The 520 bridge, not so coincidentally, was closed.  Drive there?  A maps estimate said 37 minutes, so I’d have to leave at around 5:50.  However, how many of the 13,000 participants would be driving?  While I would probably arrive earlier than most and be ok, this didn’t seem very reliable, so 5:30?  It annoys me to drive in order to run anyway, so next up was the bus.  The first 255 on Saturdays leaves downtown Kirkland at 5:46.  However, if I left a bike there then I wouldn’t have a good way to get back to it later because I was planning on using a 520 shuttle with the family.  That meant the South Kirkland P&R, or 3.5 miles of biking+locking to catch it at 5:54.  This could have worked, conservatively leaving the house at 5:30.  However, the family was going to the Houghton P&R, and I wasn’t so excited about biking back up the hill at the end of the day.  The best solution however, was to not need to deal with a bike at all.  By also leaving around 5:30, I could simply jog the 1.5 miles to the closest stop (Houghton), and at the end of the day the Houghton P&R is within a mile of our house (and mostly on top of the hill).

The bus was a tight schedule.  It would have been easy with the normal 520 routing to the Montlake freeway station, but instead it had I-90 routing to the transit tunnel.  The schedule said 6:16, but it would clearly be late, and then Link only runs every 12 minutes.  On the bright side, Link wouldn’t get stuck in any traffic, so at least the arrival would be reliable.  Of course, the 255 schedule seems to rely on low ridership, so it was about 10 minutes late before heading to I-90.  After that, the ride and connection to Link were smooth, and I probably arrived around 6:40.  I then lucked out when they started 5 minutes late as I was just able to finish warming up in time.

Buses

Given my difficulties in the above two trips and then the fiasco getting people off of the 520 bridge at the end of the day, it would be natural to complain about buses.  Then, by extension, light rail would probably be the solution.  However, I don’t think that’s the case.

Instead, I think the lesson is that this was simply a result of buses done poorly.  My first trip was mainly a victim of infrequent buses.  It’s easy to see why people focus on one-seat rides and talk about a “transfer penalty”.  When you can control when you start your trip, you can (partially) deal with an infrequent schedule.  With a transfer you generally can’t, and the same held for when I finished my errand.  This pretty much rules out such trips unless one has no alternatives.  That’s why I was jogging to the stops.

ST2/3 don’t really offer anything for this trip.  This is mainly because the trip is too local and not really relevant to Sound Transit.  With East Link I’d have reliable service from my office and a >1 mile walk to this store.  It would be similar with a bus connection to return home.  The proposed ST3 line to nowhere is irrelevant.  Bus frequency would have helped a lot, and if frequency made some connections work to shorten the walks then it would be even better.

The morning trip to the race offers a similar story – not about frequency but about how we handle our bus routes.  Certainly Link was the best part of the trip, but getting from downtown to the U District wasn’t the problem I even wanted to solve.  The 255 route does exactly what I wanted.  Why were we rerouting buses the entire weekend?  Yes, there were windows in the weekend where the running and biking events used the entire west approach, but that’s no excuse to ruin the transit system for the weekend.

Lastly, the bus shuttle system failed badly to get everyone off of the bridge at the end of the day.  There were some early signs with the wait to get onto the bridge for the party, especially near the South Kirkland P&R as the buses were stuck in traffic from people driving to that P&R.  Right there we saw the failure of park and rides to scale and also the inevitable reliability issues from putting buses in general traffic.  Things got worse later as the wait to Seattle ended up being over an hour.  The real capacity issue seemed to be loading, where only a small number of buses would be simultaneously loaded via a small makeshift bridge from the new bridge to the old one.  The number of buses and the long turnaround required might have been issues, but any improvements to them wouldn’t have mattered much with the limitations of the makeshift station.

In the end, I think I better understand why popular opinion is fairly negative about buses.  It’s not a matter of trying to “sell” buses better but rather a need to make them more reliable and convenient, things that we know how to do.

Mark’s 2016 Errundonnee Wrap-up

One of the great things about the Errandonnee is that it can be whatever you want it to be.  As Michelle writes, it can be a celebration of a way of life – a time to think (and maybe write) about everything that goes into a 12 day stretch.  For me it’s been a prod to try a bit more.  Or maybe a lot more.  Before last year’s event, I’d occasionally take a book or two to the library, but during it I tried bring home a stack of 17 books.  I don’t really recommend that load, but since then I’ve done around 5 books many times.  I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I changed from avoiding/fearing cargo to it just being a part of the trip.  This year I think my discovery is the use of a stroller as a cargo carrier.  The chair just went so smoothly!  We’re still not sure how we would have attached it to a bike (and maybe in terms of discovering the stroller this was just a stroke of luck since the stroller and chair just fit together so well and other things won’t), and we didn’t really want to deal with moving the car seats around (and actually, you know, driving).  I don’t anticipate a lot of stroller errands, but now it’s in the toolbox.  Carrying the bikes was amusing.  It was a little eye-opening to realize I could just put one (partly) in the backpack.  I’ll have to work harder at attaching things to the outside of it, but maybe there’s something there too.  We’ll see.

Another difference for me was that this year simply involved more running.  Last year was more “we need to do an errand; can I run it?” and this year was “where am I going today?”  I’m also at a point where I’m doing the double commute a fair bit.  The Errandonnee, probably not coincidentally, was part of a two week stretch of more miles than I’ve ever done.  Combining the miles with a pair of workouts each week was pretty demanding, and I did a bit less in the following week.  The volume of miles around town do seem to be having a pretty good effect on me as a runner.

The categories are quite flexible.  Michelle and I have fun (though maybe she eventually tires of) debating what goes into which category.  Personal care vs personal business and both of them vs store and non-store errands?  There’s no right answer here.  Just don’t do the same thing 12 times.  Think about trying something new; maybe you’ll discover something.

I did less (or at least less frequent) writing this year.  After the chair, everything else was stuffed into this post, including trip mileage.  So all that leaves is the equipment and a control card.

Shoes

(Shoes marked with (*) were in last year’s post as well.)

Top row, from left:

  • (*) Mizuno Wave EVO Levitas – I really like running in these shoes.  I’m hitting the end of my first pair, which I’ve held back for only workouts and racing for a long time.  This shoe is now somewhat hard to find.  This pair came from ebay, and I also found a pair a half size larger on an online discount website (not pictured here).
  • Vivobarefoot Evo Pure (black, hard to see) – There are extremely minimal and only come out for short runs.  I didn’t use them during the Errandonnee.
  • (*) New Balance MR1 Minimus Hi-Rez – I like the design on these running-wise, but when I finally started to try to use them, the bottom started tearing in multiple places.  This is probably why this shoe disappeared from the market.  Oh well.  I occasionally glob some Shoe Goo on them and run in them and tear them somewhere else.
  • (*) Saucony Hattori – Nothing new since last year.  I like these for speed days, and they did make an appearance this year because of that.
  • (*) New Balance Minimus Zero V2 – These are an enigma to me.  These seem to be a trigger for pain in the top of my right foot (soft tissue, not a stress fracture, at least the first time around), though I’m also capable of finding that pain with too much training.  Right now they are shelved and didn’t see the Errandonnee.

Bottom row, from left:

  • Zoot Ultra Kiawe 2.0 – This is my first shoe back outside of what I would consider minimalist, though many shoes have more cushion or drop than them (stack height of 17mm rear and 11mm front and thus a drop of 6mm).  They are visibly bigger than my other shoes.  I bought them partly because it’s becoming a pain to find minimal but not barefoot-style shoes.  I’m also trying to add a bit of variety to the footwear since my right foot seems to be my weak point when I push the mileage.  So far I like them, but it’s easy to get lazy in them.
  • (*) Mizuno Wave EVO Levitas – This is my first pair of these.  I probably should have retired them by now, and last week’s big tear will hasten that.  I’ve been holding on to them until I’m reading to move workouts over to the new pair.
  • (*) Merrell Road Glove – These are the original Road Glove.  I like them more and more as time goes on.  They were falling apart last year.  I think I can get them to 2000 miles.  Merrell, if you have size 11s in a warehouse somewhere, please send them to me 🙂
  • (*) Inov-8 Trailroc 235 – I pulled out the trail shoes for the stroller/chair run on the Cross Kirkland Corridor, where they were completely overkill.

Packs

Surprisingly, I don’t have a true running pack.  When I started carrying cargo, I tried the various packs that we already had, and I use two of them now.  There aren’t a lot of places that carry running packs.  I recently ordered a bunch of racing-style packs in the hope of shedding some weight, but I didn’t really like any of them.  If I have time I’ll post some partial reviews.  (I couldn’t use them if I wanted to return them.)  The only place (without escaping my run- or bike-shed and there’s something backwards about driving somewhere for running gear) with any is REI, and I only realized that recently.  If I had to purchase a pack now, I’m fairly certain it would be a Osprey Stratos or a Gregory Zulu (recently redesigned I believe).  I don’t think they are much lighter (if at all) than my pack, though they are a bit nicer.  In particular, they both have a suspension to keep some air flow on the back while still holding the bag fairly snug to the body.  They also have various doodads.  I do really want a hip pocket for stashing my phone (camera).

This is my main pack, an old Lowe Alpine Walkabout 35:

The first thing is fit.  I have an above-average torso length (6′ tall with probably more of it in the torso than average), so I tend to have trouble with one-size-fits-all packs.  They don’t reach both my waist and shoulders, so they end up pulling the bottom of the pack up.  I don’t have that problem with this pack.  I don’t remember if it’s just a long pack or if it came in sizes.  Next is having enough of a waist strap to hold the weight comfortably.  In lightweight, minimal-cargo packs (not much more than hydration packs), they can get away with most of the weight on the shoulders and minimal or no waist strap.  I put most of the weight on my waist and use the shoulder straps to keep it in place.  Also important are the two straps that tighten along the length of the bag.  They pull in the bag and cargo and keep it all from bouncing around.  Other designs can do this (e.g., cinching around the side more).  I find that I need to position the bag and then tighten these (a fair bit but not as much as possible).  Otherwise they will contort the pack into a curve.  All of the buckles and things are large enough to be fairly easy to use.  Race packs sacrifice this for weight.  The main compartment is big enough for various bags of stuff (clothes, shoes – it is important that they can fit horizontally or they will take up the entire bag, food), and the opening is big enough to actually get stuff in there. If the contents are heavy, then it is possible to overload this pack for running. It has a few areas beyond the main compartment – some vertical ones for long things, phone, ID/credit card, etc, and a stretchy net pocket for last-minute stuff (or often an orange).  Lastly, it has a rain cover and a separate pocket for that.  I don’t use it a lot; it isn’t necessary unless the run is long or the rain is hard.  But if it wasn’t always there, I’d never have it for the few times that I need it.

My other pack is possibly more surprising.  It’s just a waist-pack:

It’s obviously a Mountainsmith. I don’t know which one it is or if any current ones are better (or worse) for running. It’s only a bit lighter than the backpack, but it feels like a lot less since it’s not on my shoulders. It has a huge waist-strap, which goes a long way. It has four straps that cinch the load. It does ok even if I fill it somewhat full. I can toss my phone in one of the water bottle holders and access it fairly easily.

I also have a running belt for when I only want to carry a phone, cards, and keys, and don’t want to put them in my pockets.

And I’ve been known to just carry something in a hand.

Stroller

For larger loads, wheels come in handy (similar to switching from a backpack to anything else on a bike). I didn’t push any kids around during the Errandonnee, which of course is their intended purpose. You can race with them too.  For the Errandonnee, I used a double Bob Revolution.  I think it might be the SE, but they didn’t have so many models when we bought our single and we bought the double used.  They are hit-or-miss with cargo.  They don’t have a lot of contained cargo capacity; the basket that is underneath the seats has limited clearance.  In turns out it was perfect for our particular chair.

Clothes

The only things about carrying cargo that influences any of my clothing are pockets. On shorts, I have found front pockets to work way better than back pockets for anything more than a gel (which, in fairness, is what they seem to be designed for). Unless I’m running a workout (or doing strides or drills that aren’t part of transportation running), I can get away with even a smartphone in a front pocket and my ID/bus pass/etc in the other. I tried a cycling shirt with a rear pocket and couldn’t put anything in it. Both kinds of rear pockets bounced around like crazy.

Control Card

By official rules, each category is only counted twice.  I did my 7+ categories and 12+ appropriately counted errands, but this includes them all.

Personal care: #4 (donut – yum), #6 (to workout – pretty trail), #12 (to track – tired), #23 (to workout)

Personal business: #5 (drop-off/pickup – hills), #11 (pickup – pole in sidewalk)

You carried WHAT?!?: #1 (chair – chair!), #19 (bikes – improve attachment next time)

Arts and entertainment: #3 (art tour – it’s all around!), #20 (Strava art – hard work!)

Non-store: #2 (library – in hand ok), #21 (ATM – has money!)

Social call: none

Work: #7, #8, #9, #13, #14, #17, #22, #24 (commutes – important, bag contents, crossings

Store: #10 (chair round 2 – uphill not so bad), #16 (Trader Joe’s – cargo experiment)

Wild card: #15 (failed trip – fully read email next time)

23 errands, 12 categories, 84.5 transportation miles (108.5 total)