Back in Spain…AICP credits done!

snapshot from rural Washington: though these bikes have seen better days, I'd bet on them more than that bus any day...

snapshot from rural Washington: though these bikes have seen better days, I’d bet on them more than that bus any day…

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to write a blog entry. In March and April, my husband, son, and I went to the United States to visit friends and family. We spent most of our time in the Seattle, Washington area with a week on the Olympic Peninsula with my parents, a weekend in Portland, Oregon, and then a few days down in southern California with my sister and her family.

It was a whirlwind trip and a bit exhausting traveling with a sixteen month-old who had to adjust to jetlag, but all in all, we had a great time and hope to get back to visit again soon! I took some photos of some interesting urban plan-nerd type things that I hope to post about in the near future.

Since we’ve been back, I’ve been busy logging and finishing up my 32 hours of professional development/continuing education credits for my American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) credential before the April 30th deadline. More about the AICP and some interesting tidbits I learned doing my professional development credits in the next post.


In search of a third place

When I started this blog two years ago, I had a list of possible topics that I intended to write about on a weekly basis. But…let’s just say that life happened and I left off after publishing just one entry. In the mean time, I got married, had a baby, and have been busy with my little one since then. Now, I’m finally getting back to this blog and I would really like to make it a weekly activity if possible. I think when I started this blog I was a little intimidated to publish something online and thought it had to be perfect. But, really, when I think about it I can’t imagine anyone actually reading this anyway. It’s really just a place for me to record and explore topics that interest me in the context of my life and experiences as an urban planner, mother, and expat in Madrid.

At the moment my husband is feeding our baby his ‘cerienda’—a combination of an afternoon snack (merienda) and dinner (cena). I’ve escaped to the local library branch, which for right now is my chosen third place—not home, not work, but a public place where I can have some quiet time to work. I would love it if it had a more of a café vibe, but the local bakery café near our home doesn’t have wifi or really much seating aside from the outside seating on the terraza that can be a little cold and filled with cigarette smoke.

Looking back at the last entry, I mentioned that we were lucky that we have a trastero where we can store our bicycles. Though I still feel fortunate to have that space available, on my way walking here I was wishing that our apartment complex actually had some secure outdoor bike parking. Just the matter of going down to the trastero and carrying my bicycle up the stairs is enough extra effort for me that I opt to walk places instead of bothering with the bicycle. For that matter, I wish the streets on the way to the library—that pass by the local school—had bike lanes. I really LOVE the feeling of riding a bicycle so much more than the slow pace of walking. If we end up staying here in Madrid, I wonder if its Plan Director de Movilidad Ciclista will ever get implemented so that my son can experience the joys of riding around his city on two wheels and we can have the peace of mind to let him explore the world on his own. I hope so…

Well, it’s time to head back home to put the ‘lil one to bed. I’ll try to post something next week when I return to the library—next time I have to remember to bring my wallet with my library card—I’m bummed I can’t check out the video “Chico y Rita” that I’ve been wanting to see for some time. ¡vaya!

bike parking for apartment dwellers


la latina, madrid

Living in small apartments over the years, I’ve learned to be creative with finding places to store my two-wheeled friend. In my last place in Seattle, I put down a deposit as soon as the landlord showed me the shared bike room in the basement. While it wasn’t more than a closet with bikes stacked upon each other, it did mean that I wasn’t lugging my bike upstairs to lock it up on a shared balcony or tripping over it when I got out of bed. Here in Madrid, we’re fortunate to have a small trastero (storage room) in our basement where we can keep our bikes when we’re not touring around.

Other folks aren’t so lucky. In Spain, the 2009 Barómetro Annual de la Bicicleta survey suggests that adequate bike parking is a common concern: over 20 percent of bicyclists surveyed reported a bicycle theft on at least one occasion and over 90 percent agreed that public and private facilities lack bicycle parking. Pablo Leon, who blogs at I love bicis, describes in the post ‘me molestas’ his conflicts with neighbors about bike parking both inside and outside of his apartment building in Madrid.

Bicyclists in other large cities complain about an absence of secure bike parking as well. My brother talked about getting a bike for years, but was deterred by the six flights of stairs (no elevator) and shortage of space in his small, shared apartment in New York City. He finally invested in a folding bike—he still has to haul it up all those stairs, but at least it doesn’t take up so much space once he’s home. Since he got it, he’s been bike commuting regularly and has even been talking about getting studded tires for the winter snow.

In 2009, New York City adopted code amendments requiring new apartment buildings (with 10 units or more) and some renovations of existing apartment buildings to provide secure indoor bicycle parking. While this is a welcome change, what about people like my brother who live in older buildings or other folks who live in other cities that don’t have these requirements? Learn more in the next post…