Spokes aligned: Biking in Raleigh

Buying a new bike for myself has been in the works for awhile; I’ve remained open to the right time and circumstance for spending the money, being mentally motivated, and physically capable (having the trails and neighborhood roads, rider friends, etc). This weekend the spokes aligned. We recently moved and now live only a few blocks from the Greenway, in a people-friendly neighborhood (Five Points at Crabtree Trail). My year of yoga is complete (still practicing, just more at home than at the studio), so I’m motivated to figure out a new way to get my exercise, and I’m ready to learn how to get around by bike in Raleigh. To boot, George is eager to hop back on his bike, and my gal pals love their bikes and go on frequent rides.

Saturday was a beautiful fall day. After brunch at Irregardless, we found ourselves at Oak City Cycling, off Person Street, across from the new Yellow Dog Bakery and The Farmery grocery container. I interviewed one of the owners, David, earlier this year about their new local bike shop and the biking community in downtown Raleigh. Laughingly, I walked in asking to purchase a bike for around $200, but I knew then and you all know reading this, that that price is just too low for a quality bike. I chose a black Citizen bike fit for roads and some light trails: a “middle-of-the-road” tire! for $395. I got Knog LED lights for the font and back and an awesome helmet by Bern. Totally worth it. I feel comfortable, stable, light… and most of all, happy!… on my new bike. Thanks to Oak City Cycling!

bike at OCC my new bike!

Oak City Cycling shop IMAG1119

The last bike I owned was a Cruiser (no gears, just for riding around a bit). I got it cheap on Craigslist, sort of as a training bike to figure out if I would want to spend the money on a bigger, better, real bike—but, it was just too different, and difficult with no gears, to really tell. I also lived in a small, second story apartment so getting it down and up was a pain. Plus, I didn’t have anywhere other than my living room to store it. Yesterday, I went on a 10 mile! trek from the my house to the Greenway (Crabtree Trail) to Crabtree Blvd to a friend’s house near Glascock Road. I wasn’t totally sure where I was going, but that was half the fun. Now, we just need a better app to help us get around Raleigh and our Greenway trails.

Raleigh Greenway trails IMAG1124

I know many of you have bikes—I’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and advice for owning and riding!
Do you commute to work? Are you in a club? How’s the traffic?

Parking downtown

When you go downtown, do you drive? Do you park on the street or in a parking deck? Does it depend on where you’re going or do you have a favorite spot you typically go to?

A group of citizen geeks recently started working on the development of a smartphone app to “help people navigate urban areas, showing them the best possible parking locations and offering wayfinding to their end destination.” They are the winners of the recent NC Dataplooza open data competition.

Here’s a cheatsheet, a few tips, and my favorite spots.

How to park downtown cheatsheet

Complete list of parking decks in downtown Raleigh.

Rules for city owned and operated decks

Monday through Friday, 7am to 7pm: first 15 minutes are free, then $1 every 30 min ($12 max)

Complimentary parking: Monday through Friday, 7pm to 7am; Free on the weekends (except for special events)

On-street, metered parking

Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm: $1 per hour (or less, by the minute); coins and credit cards

Tips for parking downtown

  1. If you’re heading for a meal, to work, or meet friends (an extended stay): drive towards your destination and look for a parking deck, when you’re close, just pick one (street parking is much more difficult). I do this even for relatively short stays, it’s just easier.
  2. There are many parking decks scattered between the border streets of: Blount, Davie, Dawson, and Morgan. It’s hard to make a bad choice, and remember a light walk couldn’t hurt!
  3. Street parking is easiest where they are grouped together and the lines are slanted (like two of my favorites below). The reason sidewalk parking is difficult is not so much because you have to parallel park, it’s because there’s usually so much traffic you’ll end up holding up a line of cars. It’s fine to do, I just don’t like it.
  4. Do what’s easier. It’s not that expensive and you’ll have a better time.

My favorite places to park

  • Wilmington Station Deck (city owned and operated)
  • Beside Nash Square at the 200-300 block of W Hargett Street
  • City Center Deck (city owned and operated)
  • Beside Moore Square at the 200-300 block of E Martin Street


Thursday, November 14 at 11:25am

Carla, a PR director for a firm that operates nationwide, works remotely every day from her home in Raleigh. Occasionally, she gets out and heads to a downtown coffee shop. Having dinner out is also a welcome venture. She tells me that Lilly’s Pizza, famous for how they combine and bake flattened dough and toppings, also has fantastic hummus and pita. Then, the cashier tells her that the chili and veggie black bean soup are insanely good as well. He says, “People need to branch out from the pizza more cause all of our food is good!”

*this is a new section on Downtown Dame that is dedicated to the tidbits of information that get shared with me throughout the day, updated often

Wednesday, November 13 at 4:38pm

Market Grocery could be over before it begins: two customers at Beneluxe cafe are told that a conflict between the Market owners/operators and the leasing agent has resulted in both parties walking away from the deal. Does that mean Market Grocery is no more? What will happen to the space that is, last time I looked a month ago, practically ready for business—constructed with a restaurant space on one side and a grocery store on the other.

Thursday, November 7 at 1: 17pm

@OakCityMeatball is already on Twitter (slated to open their doors on Davie Street at the Red Hat Tower building any time now) and their tagline reads: Ball’n in Raleigh. Clever. They last thing they tweeted themselves was on August 4: The City has granted us our permits! Construction starts this week. One big step closer! #onthatgrind. And, on September 5 they retweeted doors opening for HopScotch. Crickets since. Think they’re just heads down to get this thing open? Can’t wait!

Monday, November 4 at 11:30am

I head down the elevator at the office to meet Tyler of the Happy + Hale raw juice company for my first juice delivery! He tells me about a conversation he overheard at Whole Foods that morning while buying Kale (for his juice, of course!). The debate was where to get fresh juice in the area and they mentioned hearing good things about his company. “Congrats, you’re making it!,” I say. Then, Tyler tells me of their plans to open a store front at City Plaza and extend their delivery radius beyond downtown within the beltline. Can’t wait!

Night out downtown: Fashion show for a cause

Our friends at Activate Good are hosting their annual fashion show this Saturday, November 9! It’s been called the “hottest show in town” and I can’t encourage you enough to support this amazing group if you’re looking for a fun night downtown and a way to be a part of something special in the community.

Couture for a Cause 2012

Activate Good is a platform and a service designed to increase volunteerism by connecting opportunities and people throughout the Triangle.

Earlier this year, Amber, their CEO, entered and won my 3 free blog posts contest (coming again soon). Jazzed about her work, I interviewed her here. Then, I worked alongside Amber at CityCamp NC, and it was more than a pleasure: she is inspiring, fun, and focused. Activate Good also partners with the downtown tech giant Red Hat to provide volunteer opportunities to their employees. Way to go!

They’re giving away two free tickets: enter to win here. And, I’ve been told that Justin LeBlanc, a finalist on this season’s Project Runway, will be a judge!

Couture for a Cause 2012

Couture for a Cause 2013

November 9, Saturday evening

Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh from 8 – 11pm

P.S. See more photos from last year.

The original First Friday

I was invited to visit Artspace this morning, along with other media folks, to check out some fantastic art as they prepare for their upcoming Collectors Gala on November 23. As I wandered the halls where the artists rent space to work and show their art, I met a sculpture artist that told me how the original First Friday was held and started at Artspace. “We used to sit around with a bowl of chips and salsa, talking and laughing about how we were the only ones around. Now, Artspace gets somewhere between 3,000  and 4,000 visitors each First Friday,” said Paris Alexander.

How times have changed. We reminisced about the old days of downtown Raleigh, how it was practically abandoned after 6pm each day after businesses closed up shop, and how college students (and all the rest) didn’t venture downtown on the weekends much. It was a ghost town. Today, downtown Raleigh has come a long way. And, there are a lot of groups and individuals invested in growing the culture—of arts, of business, of festivals, and more.

If you’re interested in the 12th annual Artspace Collectors Gala on November 23 in downtown Raleigh, go here to purchase tickets. The event aims to promote the arts in our community, to enrich the culture of our city, and to encourage visitors to begin or add to their home art collections (hence, the Collectors Gala).

Mary Poole at ArtSpace

The media event this morning began with Mary Poole, Executive Director at Artspace, saying:

Art is not just for the elite, it’s for everybody.

City Councilwoman, Mary Ann Baldwin, added that the importance of supporting art in the community by supporting organizations like Artspace because it is all tied to creating a rich culture that people want to be a part of. Raleigh is growing in the number of technology companies doing business here, as well as co-working spaces, like HUB Raleigh and HQ Raleigh, she pointed out. Adding, Artspace is both big business ($) and “the original co-working space.”

ArtSpace media event

Gallery of snippets I took of the larger masterpieces:

I chatted with a few of their resident artists. (They also nurture emerging artists!) Paris Alexander’s sculptures of stone reminded me of dreaming and are really excellent in natural, outdoor settings. Becky Joye has a vintage, geometric style and uses paints, pens, thread, and fabric to re-create circus  and carnival rides. I love the simplicity and her use of bright colors. I hope to get a print when I go back after work!

IMAG1043 IMAG1047 IMAG1048 Artists at ArtSpace

The screen prints I made for my coworkers at the DIY art station:


raleigh screen print