Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Kidical Mass Invites You to First Night

Kidical Mass Tacoma invites you to ride along in the World's Shortest Parade on December 31st! The parade is part of First Night, Downtown Tacoma's New Year's celebration, and kicks-off a full evening of activities and musical performances.

Meet at South 7th and Broadway in front of the Graffiti Garages at 6pm. The parade route is downhill a mere 4 blocks along Broadway and ends at the Pierce Transit park just past the Pantages Theater, which is where the main outdoor stage is for the celebration.

Helmets are required. Lights are recommended. Costumes, noise-makers, and bike decorations are certainly encouraged. 

Visit for more details on the other First Night activities and to purchase event buttons. 

P.S. Mark your calendars for the Junior Daffodil Parade on April 12, 2014. The theme is "Ready, Set, Grow!" and it seems like the perfect way to kickoff our 2014 Kidical Mass Tacoma season.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Big Finish to Tacoma's Inaugural Kidical Mass Summer

Last weekend we wrapped up Tacoma's first season of Kidical Mass with our fifth and final ride of the summer. Kidical Mass went Point-to-Point with over 100 kids, parents and friends riding together on the new waterfront trail from Point Defiance Park down to the playground at the Point Ruston development. 

With nearly 250 participants pre-registered for the ride, I was amazed to see so many families turn up on what was a very wet and chilly day. It's evident that Tacomans want their kids to ride!

The Point-to-Point ride was just one component of MetroParks's Downtown To Defiance Sunday Parkways event, a first-of-its-kind activity for Tacoma that opened a 7 mile stretch of our beautiful waterfront solely to cyclists, runners, and pedestrians. MetroParks estimates over 800 people took the opportunity to ride, run or walk part of the trail that morning. 

On behalf of our riders, THANK YOU to the Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club, Hilltop Pop Shop, Point Ruston, Defiance Bicycles, Downtown On The GoMetroParks, and the City of Tacoma for organizing this event and supporting Kidical Mass in Tacoma. We're already looking forward to more family rides in 2014!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get Creative: Decorate Your Helmet

After Kidical Mass #4, I rode downtown to the Tacoma Art Museum where local artists were busy decorating bike helmets. (Many thanks to Tinkertopia owner RR Anderson for the heads-up on this event!)

According to TAM:
"Participating artists will receive a bicycle helmet to decorate, an assortment of mixed media supplies, receive 20 dollars of credit at Tinkertopia, and an honorarium of 50 dollars for participating. During the event there will be a ballot box for people to vote for their favorite helmet. At 3 pm the first, second, and third place will be announced.
After the festival the helmets will be on display at Tacoma Art Museum in the community art space until September 21. On September 22 during the Dome to Defiance Sunday Parkways bicycling event the helmets will be worn by special guests."
It was a beautiful day to work outside and every artist seemed to have a completely different design concept.

Some helmets were already completed and on display inside the museum.

Make sure you attend the Downtown to Defiance event on September 22 to see these works of art in action. TBR will be there to help with Kidical Mass #5: Point to Point. It's going to be rad. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Kidical Mass #5: Point Defiance to Point Ruston

Tacoma's first Kidical Mass summer is winding down!

Our fifth and final ride of the season will be Sunday, September 22 as part of the Downtown to Defiance: Sunday Parkways event.

Kidical Mass goes Point to Point
Kidical Mass will lead a family-friendly bike ride from the entrance of Point Defiance Park down to Point Ruston on the newly finished section of the waterfront trail. Kids can play on the playground at the halfway point before heading back up the hill for a frozen treat from Hilltop Pop Shop.

The ride starts at 11am, but activities at Point Defiance begin at 10am so plan to arrive early. Look for the Kidical Mass bike corral! Everyone is welcome to join us. 

Visit to register for the ride and check-out a full listing of activities.

Downtown to Defiance

The Kidical Mass Point to Point ride is just a small part of the Downtown to Defiance event. MetroParks will close some lanes of Dock Street and Schuster Parkway to car traffic for a limited time in the morning to allow cyclists, runners, skateboarders, etc., to enjoy a waterfront route from the Tacoma Dome to Point Defiance Park. The event will showcase the completion of the interim waterfront trail through the Point Ruston development.

View Downtown To Defiance in a larger map

The whole route is about 7 miles and there will be stops along the way with lots of activities provided by MetroParks. Be sure to visit for more details and to register for longer rides with the Tacoma Wheelmen and the VeloFemmes.

If you ride all or part of the Downtown to Defiance route earlier in the morning, you should have plenty of time to join Kidical Mass at 11am. Everyone is welcome.

Point Ruston Waterfront Trail

The interim trail is the missing link between the well developed Ruston Way trail and the many trails and pathways in Point Defiance Park. As of August 23, the trail is roughly graded and will be paved soon.

The trail will be the on the graded roadway on the right
The trail switchbacks around the cliffside above Point Ruston

The trail climbs up a 5% grade from the Copperline Apartments at the north end of Ruston Way. This may be a challenging climb for younger riders, but it also makes a nice walk!

Feel free to leave questions and comments below. We are really excited to be a part of this first-of-its-kind event in Tacoma!

Monday, August 19, 2013

South Tacoma Trail Ride with Kidical Mass

Our fourth Kidical Mass of the summer happened on Saturday. Five families met at South Park for a ride on the Water Ditch Trail, which winds through the South Tacoma neighborhood. Before we started, I scoped out the street crossing at South 56th, the only major arterial on the trail. To my surprise I found a huge car show taking up 6 blocks of nearby South Tacoma Way.

The car show was easily drawing 10 times the normal Saturday morning traffic and the road closure was causing backups and parking issues near the trailhead at South Park. While the kids decorated bikes, the pedal parents discussed how we'd handle the traffic.

There is signage expressly prohibiting pedestrian crossings where the Water Ditch Trail meets 56th Street. Rather than navigate our 15 bikes several blocks up the sidewalk to the traffic signal, we simply waited for a gap and blocked traffic for a minute. It worked OK.

After we crossed and walked up this short incline, we were rather unencumbered for the rest of the ride. There are many small residential street crossings, which gave us opportunities to practice Watch for Cars and Look Both Ways. 

Our destination was Arlington Elementary, where one of our riders had just graduated from preschool. She was excited to tell us about her field trip to Northwest Trek and how she'd be attending kindergarten at Edison Elementary next month, a school which we also rode by. With conviction and maybe even pride, she told us, "I live in South Tacoma." She seemed tickled to be sharing her neighborhood with us.

At Arlington we spent 15 minutes picking up litter from the playground and the ball field. Kids and pedal parents were more than happy to pitch in.

Knowing the afternoon traffic would be heavier, we left the trail and dropped down to Puget Sound Avenue just before 56th Street so we could cross at a traffic light. It was a good choice.

Big kids took the lane and younger riders took the sidewalk for the last six blocks back to the park. Traffic was heavy, but everyone did a great job of sharing the road. At this point I felt the whole group was riding with a poise and confidence that we lacked at the beginning. They made it look easy.

As usual, Jeff's Ice Cream rode along and handed out frozen treats to all of our riders at the finish. South Park is truly a gem of the South Tacoma neighborhood and worth checking out.

Thanks again to the Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club for supporting Kidical Mass. Our next (and final) ride of the summer, will be on September 22 as part of Metropark's Downtown to Defiance: Sunday Parkway event. Kidical Mass will start at 11am from the Point Defiance Park entrance (look for a special bike corral.) More details will be posted here soon. Mark your calendar!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kidical Mass Tacoma #4: Water Ditch Trail

Our next Kidical Mass on August 17 will head to South Tacoma for a ride on the Water Ditch Trail. The trail starts near South Park and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center at S. 50th and Puget Sound Ave (just off South Tacoma Way). We'll start there at 11 am, but come earlier if you want to decorate your bike.

South Park has a playground, sprayground and restrooms.
The trail heads south through the neighborhood, past Gray Middle School, and ends near Arlington Elementary School. I pre-rode the route today and found this guy at the Arlington playground.

While the playground will make a fun mid-point recess spot for our young riders, I couldn't help but notice the litter. There's a lot of litter around the playground. So I'm going to bring garbage bags, broom, dustpan, and some gloves so that we can do a little clean-up while we hang out at Arlington. It just looks like it could use a little love. Bring gloves for your young riders if you'd like them to pitch in.

Then we'll head back to South Park for treats and another chance to play. South Park is well shaded and will be a great place to cool off after this flat and manageable 3.8 mile round-trip. Did I already mention the sprayground?

As always, we will ride together and stop to regroup as needed along the way. Our only major street crossing will be at S. 56th Street. We will have volunteers stop traffic before crossing the street as a group. On every ride, I'm always impressed with the courtesy of drivers who give us their right-of-way when we cross arterials. Kids are traffic, too!

We'll see you on August 17.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kidical Mass Tacoma 3: Share, Snack, Play, Crash

Kidical Mass #3 took place on Saturday July 13, starting and ending on the beautiful campus of the University of Puget Sound. We had 42 riders including Jeff's Ice Cream and several kitted members of the Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club who not only came along for the ride, but also offered mechanical support and TWBC tattoos!

Once the kids were inked and their bikes were decorated, we had a brief safety message to emphasize Stay on the Right and Don't Bunch at Intersections. These have been key concepts to emphasize while we are on the road as well.

We made our way south to our first stop, the Central Tacoma Free Radical Media Exchange. It's the largest of several Little Free Libraries in Tacoma. Because it's located down a loose gravel alley, we dismounted and walked down to check it out. 

The pocket library concept seemed new to most folks, but the kids quickly jumped right in to hunt for books and pick a few fresh raspberries. Many thanks to library curator RR Anderson for showcasing a great way to creatively re-use materials and share with neighbors.

Now loaded up with books, we took off for Franklin Park. On the way we had our second minor crash that resulted in a flat 12" tire. A few folks stayed behind to try and patch the tube, while the rest of the bunch continued to the park for a longer break. Ultimately, the young rider's dad had to go back for his truck to give him a lift to the finish. There's always free ice cream at the finish and he had definitely earned his ice cream.

Just a few blocks from UPS, a third rider went down. He was ok, buck shaken up. Thankfully, his mom was willing to give him a pump back to campus and a cargotrike dad was able to carry the young rider's 12" bike to the finish. Teamwork!

Interestingly, when we pulled over to make sure mom and son were ok, several of the kids noticed we were stopped next to another little library! It was a surprise to me, too, since this one isn't registered on the LFL website. Look for it north of 6th on Puget Sound Ave.

Back on campus, the kids enjoyed made-in-Washington ice cream bars from Jeff's Ice Cream and raced bikes around Jones Fountain. My helmet is off to all of the pedal parents and kid riders who persevered on this rather rough ride. The street surfaces of Central Tacoma are in the poorest condition of any that Kidical Mass Tacoma has ridden so far.

This was also our longest and most involved ride yet. Our average speed of 4.5mph has been quite consistent on our three rides and is based primarily on a single-speed rider with 16" wheels. I don't want to discourage riders with 12" wheels from attending Kidical Mass, but parents should be aware that Tacoma's road conditions don't always play nicely with wheels that small. Potholes are the bullies of neighborhood family bike rides.

As always, your feedback and comments on the ride are always appreciated. I'm still ironing out the route details for KM #4 in August, but it will likely be a South Tacoma route. More details to follow soon!