Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I have no idea how suspension forks work



I have this bike that I don't talk about very much. It is a Kona Kula Deluxe from 2006. I bought it in like 2009 (2010?) and I rode it for awhile, but after this race in Massachusetts that had a section with 3' of standing water, it didn't work well for awhile. I've finally fixed most of it. For some reason, I decided to replace the suspension fork. I don't know that much about those things, but I decided to upgrade the Fox Vanilla R to an F32 Float 120 or some such thing. I bought it on ebay and it said it had 100mm of travel, but it's got way more than that. It's actually pretty awesome once set up correctly. However, it raised the front end and I seem to have no braking power on loose terrain. The raised front end makes it hard to climb steep stuff (keep popping wheelies) and the lack of braking makes it hard to stop. I also go downhill a lot faster with the suspension fork thingy, so I'd hope for more stopping power, not less. Lower my bars? Is that all I need to do? Fox makes a shorter travel-ma-jiggy, but it costs money. What advice do you have? Read more!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Detritus

I was looking at twitter this morning and saw this bizarre promoted tweet from REI. Why are all these clothes in the bike lane? What does this mean? I'm usually annoyed when a bike lane is full of junk. I don't stop, inspect it and then buy it.

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Let's have Earth Day, but not tell Anyone

Mark Twain knew how to stir up his audience
Has anyone heard about the Earth Day event going on at Hartford's Riverfront Plaza next Sunday, April 27th?  Someone sent me an email about it last week.  I'm glad they gave me a personal heads up, but that isn't going to do much to bring in attendees.  It was also confusing to me that an environmental event in Hartford hadn't reached out to Bike Walk Connecticut, CT Rides, or CT Transit - especially if one of the themes is sustainable transportation.  For example, Bike Walk Connecticut is planning for the May Bike to Work events right now.  I'm personally involved in the Wednesday, May 14th event in East Hartford.  East Hartford is going all "big tent" and calling it a Bike and Walk to Work Breakfast.

It drives me bonkers how poorly many events are publicized in Hartford.  It doesn't have to be that way, and it's not that difficult to do an adequate job.  If you're going to spend the time organizing the actual content of an event, please put aside the time (and a little budget) for the outreach and publicity.  There are so many amazing events and shows in Hartford that have an imperceptible audience.  If a show is lacking publicity and attendance suffers, you're doing a disservice to yourself as the organizer.  It hurts a lot (I know) when you spend days and weeks planning an event, and then only a handful of attendees show up.

This past Saturday I stopped by Charter Oak Cultural Center for live ukulele and dance as part of the severely under publicized  Hartford New Music Festival.  There were maybe six people in the entire auditorium.  I made it a point to attend after catching one mention of the event via FaceBook.  Deborah Goffe was performing, and I hadn't seen her dance yet. Deborah and Kevin Hufnagel put on a splendid performance for the intimate audience.  I didn't know a ukulele could do that, and Deborah accompanied with much strength and grace.  There is another concert next weekend, and you should follow the link to get more information.

Such that we don't continue this pattern of well performed, but under attended shows I'd like to offer some basic tips.  Remember.  I am not an event planning professional.  This is common sense.  You have it.  Use it.  And you don't have to be the organizer to make these things happen.  Bit players and volunteers working with an event can help to bring the outreach and publicity home.  If you don't see it happening, it probably isn't - and that is your cue to chip in.
  • When picking the date and time for your event spend at least 15 minutes thinking about conflicts and your target audience.  Google the date to make sure there aren't other events that would draw your same crowd.  Consider which nights and times seem to work for events like the one you're planning.  For example, don't schedule the same day and time as the Wadsworth First Thursday or RAW Creative Cocktail Hour if you are targeting Hartford's arts crowd.
  • Plan your event far enough in advance that you have time to announce the date and do appropriate publicity.  I like to target having enough detail wrapped up at least a month in advance for small events.  For big stuff you might need 3-4 months, and really big stuff with major sponsors I would recommend almost a full year in advance to catch their funding cycles.
  • Do the cheap and easy stuff first.  Facebook event.  Post it to the various local media outlets.  CTnow.com.  Hartford.com.  LetsGoArts.  RealHartford.com. Write your own blog post.  Put links to the event page or FB event on your page and other related FB groups that you belong to.  Ask your friends to share the link.  Ask folks that have said they are going to attend to share the link.  
  • If you know of organizations that have a similar mission or individuals that have a lot of connections.  Send them an email with the event blurb and link.  Ask them to share the information via their email list, blog, or Facebook.  Reach out beyond your immediate circle of contacts.
  • Posters.  Yeah.  Posters are nice, but they take time and money.  First make sure you get the electronic posters up on blog posts and FB Events.  If you have the time and money, spread printed posters around at locations and businesses where folks will see them and the event will be reinforced. 
  • Hit them.  And hit them again.  Unless they are Superfans, you need to touch them multiple times before they pull the trigger and buy a ticket or put the event on their calendar.  Just because you sent out that link on FB once doesn't mean that folks are going to magically show up.  It only takes a couple minutes to re-invite, send out event reminders, and update that FB event page with a teaser update.  
  • Sell discounted tickets ahead of time.  If you're coordinating a larger event, pre-sale tickets will guarantee a bit of income to offset expenses while also increasing buzz.  You can ask those that purchased tickets ahead to spread the word to friends, and they are now part of the publicity network.  
That's all I've got for now.  Please get better at publicity Hartford-ites.  We've got so much going on and it's a shame not to tell folks.  Hartford does "Have It", so let's not be shy about spreading the word.  Mark Twain knew how important publicity was, and we do too.

Note:  This post has very little to do with bikes.  Well aside from my event organizing associated with bike-type events.  I'm creating a new blog called - In Hartford We're All Famous Together.  I'll use that blog venue for posting non-bike related musings on Hartford. 


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inland sea



The Connecticut River is supposed to crest tonight in Hartford and I am beset with writer's block for this paper I'm supposed to write about water police, so I took to the floodplains this afternoon to see what I could see. There is a lot of water. It looks like this is the most flooding that we've had since Irene. Looking at all that water has not made want to write about California water law enforcement anymore, though I did think about it a lot while staying at the Rocky Hill ferry.
 









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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rain feet

It's raining today and in copious amounts. I have a rain coat and I have fenders, but that doesn't prevent my shoes, then socks and then feet from getting wet. I hate spending a day with wet shoes and socks. I have some giant muck boots, but they're awfully huge.



So, I had an epiphany this morning: I'll forgo socks all together and ride in flip flops. They dry quickly and allow my feet to try quickly. This plan may not work all year or in situations where flip flops are a tad informal. Also, I did end up slightly more of Hartford's road grit between my toes than I would typically like.


I know Grant Petersen rides in knock-off Crocs, but I still have some self-respect, so I don't do that. Read more!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Interesting new ways to make yourself tired




Hiking is fun and so is cycling. Generally, though, the hike a bike is not something the people seek out. It's good for character building, but you try to avoid routes where you spend an hour carrying your bike your shoulder. I did this once and was proud to say that I did, but I'm not jumping at the chance to do it again. Hiking is best done without a vestigial bicycle.

What I do recommend is riding to a hike and then locking up your bike. You get to spend maximum time outside and it discourages going too fast: you don't want to ride too hard so that you have energy to hike and you don't want to hike too far so that you can ride home. I did this yesterday wherein I rode over to Ragged Mountain, met some friends and went for a hike and then rode home. Originally, I was going to get a ride home, but apparently everyone thought I was super tough and didn't bring a bike rack. This probably doesn't work if you're planning to go hike Mount Adams or something starting from Connecticut in a day. It does work, though, if you want to go to Ragged Mountain or Heublein Tower or something more low key.

It's sort of the same principle as riding your bike to go fishing.

Ragged mountain is mostly not all that great for mountain biking. Would anyone want to ride on this? There are a couple of interesting sections of singletrack off in the unpopular part of the Reserve over by the powerlines. 

I was lying on this rock for a half hour yesterday looking at the trees and contemplating my trivial existence.
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Garage Bikes Join the Fray


The Hockanum Trail is still a bit wet.
This past weekend was an explosion of cyclists getting back out on the road after a long winter hibernating.  I can't imagine the torture of riding on a trainer or running on a treadmill, so I'm of the always outdoors variety.  Welcome back delicate garage bicycles and their riders.  We missed you.

I wanted to share a couple of upcoming events with you such that you aren't caught unaware and flat footed:

  • Saturday, April 26th.  Hartford Bicycle Studio Pop-up show.  One night only.  7PM at 30 Arbor Street.  Local artists and functional art bikes.  Patrick Connolly puts his spin on the Hartford bike scene.  Facebook event with more info.
  • Detour de Connecticut - Saturday, April 26th.  Brendan already told you about this.  If you do the Detour and then go to the art show, I will will buy you a beer.  And then I'll scrape you up off the floor.
  • Bike to Work Events - Various dates in mid-May.
    • East Hartford Bike and Walk to Work Breakfast.  Wednesday, May 14th.  6:30AM-9:00AM.  On Main Street between Pratt & Whitney and Goodwin College.  Free breakfast and other bike safety items for attendees.
    • Downtown Hartford Bike to Work Breakfast.  Friday, May 16th.  Meet at the Old State House between 7AM-9AM.
    • Other events across will be announced by Bike Walk Connecticut.  Register your own town's Bike to Work event here.
    • Bike Buddies and Meet ups help get new bicycle commuters started.  Stay tuned to Bike Walk CT for more information on those, or offer to lead in a group yourself.
  • Dinner and Bikes.  Saturday, June 7th.  Vegan dinner, bicycle movie shorts, and Bikenomics with Elly Blue.  Tickets available now.
Do you bike, walk, or take the bus?  If you're reading this blog and that isn't the case, I am questioning your sanity.  A group of Hartford citizens from various neighborhoods are organizing to get more attention for sustainable, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation.  Hartford has had plenty of advocacy for single occupancy vehicles and parking lots, now we're putting voices behind the other side of the argument.  Join us.  Take a survey on what the name of the group should be, and what issues it should be working.  If you're available, it would be great if you came to one of the upcoming meetings.

See you out there.  Be safe, especially if you're rusty from riding stationary all winter.

Some photos below in honor of carrying silly things on bike trailers.  Justin just moved across town and was photographed doing so by Real Hartford.  Huzzah for awkward loads that are easier to move by bike than car!
South Green neighborhood had a cleanup day, and I needed to move the supplies across Colt Park.
This absurd table base will be used somehow.  Statue base perhaps?
This Burley just followed me home and is likely to be converted to a cargo trailer.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mountain biking in New Haven and the Detour



I'm working on a secret project in Keney Park. In order to do research on it, my friend Marko invited me to go mountain biking in New Haven. Actually, it had nothing to do with Keney Park or research. We'd been planning on riding at West Rock for like six months and it never happened until Thursday. On the way to the West Rock, we rode through the East Rock, which has a mountain bike trail. And, this mountain bike trail has signs indicating its use by New Haven Parks and Recreation. Ratcheting of the New Haven/Hartford war, they've got a legit mountain bike trail in a city park with fancy signs. Not to mention, they've got that huge skatepark in Edgewood Park. I know we have cricket fields and some parks with a lot of roses, but we need to bring our parks in the 90's with some skateboarding and mountain biking. We don't want to lose to New Haven. I know we've got the state capitol, but all that does is not pay property taxes.

The East Rock trails aren't really that long, but they're pretty fun. West Rock is also pretty cool. I really like that road that runs along the top of the park. I am jealous of New Haven and it's rocks.


Also, Salem's Detour, which goes nowhere near any cities, is happening again this year (Apr. 26, 2014, 8am, leave from the beginning of the Hop River Trail in Manchester) and it looks like the snow will be melted in time. I think it's the same route as last year, which is a great route. I had some friends living in Hampton, but now they live in Lebanon. It's nice that they stayed on Detour route, so that I have a place to spend the night when by constitution gives out.


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

It is Time to get Organized

*** Meet at 6pm on Monday, April 7th at Fire and Spice.  Hartford specific bike, walk, bus advocacy group is forming.  ***

What is with all the surface parking lots?  Why are there very few neighborhood to neighborhood bus route connections?  How come bus route frequency falls off a cliff after 6PM?  What can we do about it?

"Hartford Has It!"  Hartford has a lot of bus transit, walking, and cycling for transportation.  A significant portion of the mode share is not single occupancy motor vehicles, particularly for those living downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods.  The question is, "Why isn't there more attention paid to and money spent on those options?"  Some might say that the issue is income, race, and class discrimination.  While I'm sure that is part of the problem, I'd say that another contributing factor is that there isn't an organized group of citizens and community leaders advocating for transportation alternatives.
A chicken or egg conundrum, it seems.
Well, rather than simply talk in circles and debate, Justin Eichenlaub has decided to organize some citizens in Hartford.  In ten years or so, we can look back on this and decide whether the organizing was useful.  I'm going to put my money on organized citizens, as talking in circles is so fucking tiresome.  The next informal meeting of this fledgling group of active transportation advocates is on Monday, April 7th or 14th at Fire and Spice, because people are hungry after work.  He's taking votes right now on which night works best for those interested.  To make things easy, I'll post the date of the actual meeting in the comments once it is announced.

Single occupancy vehicle travel.  Going the way of the dinosaur.
While we're talking about transit.  Ken and I visited New Britain this past weekend via the mostly paved CT Fastrak route.  Aside from Ken's two pinch flats en route (railroad rocks), it was a very rapid transit on bikes.  Unfortunately once the bus route opens the only sanctioned bike path will run from Newington Junction to New Britain.  In the meantime, I unofficially encourage you to check it out.  Fastrak commuters will get a solid dose of industrial back waters, dynamic graffiti walls, and natural areas - without having to ride their bicycle on train tracks.  Not much better if you ask me.

Beat Bike Bloggers sampling the future of Bus Rapid Transit
Check out these sexy stations.  There is a place to stand, sort of out of the elements.
And industrial wastelands.  My favorite thing.
Reminder.  Dinner and Bikes.  Saturday, June 7th.  Vegan food.  Bicycle movie shorts.  Bikenomics.  Get your tickets ahead of time and put it on your calendar now.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Thaw, floods



You probably don't read the beat bike blog for weather news. I'm starting to doubt there's even a such thing as reliable weather news. Remember the rumored terrible snow storm we got on Wednesday? You probably do read the beat bike blog for poorly composed pictures of the Connecticut River. While taking such a picture the other day, I considered that that river hasn't flooded yet. I guess that means there's still a lot of snow up north. The ground is starting to firm up around here and you can actually take a bike out on limited dirt.

But anyway, the reason I was contemplating this is because I was looking at the river and wondering if there's a flood forecast for the spring floods. It doesn't seem like it'd be that hard to do, but I could find anything besides NOAA (which I couldn't find a 5 day forecast for Hartford), which only gave me two days into the future. Anybody have any suggestions?

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Cyclocross for cars

I like cars. The reason I prefer bikes is that you generally can't drive cars in cool ways on public roads like you can ride bikes. Same goes for the woods. Sometimes, however, people put cones in big parking lots and you get to do this car cyclocross called autocross. I've wanted to try it for a long time, but, well, no one has been offering me use of a smaller car than the giant one I drive.

My dad likes cars and decided to sign himself and me up for the Fairfield County Sports Car Club's rookie autocross thing last weekend. It was awesome. It makes you better at driving. I highly recommend it. And since you can't do a thing with gopro'ing it, here's a video of me driving poorly.


Salem's totally going to say, "Stop copying me!"

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sprung a What?

Spring is in the air.  Tires are springing leaks, falling victim to the unswept glass shards that are indistinguishable from left over rock salt.  Chris is taking off his winter cap.  The chickens are out and scratching away at exposed earth. People are venturing out in greater numbers on bike and foot.  New graffiti is gracing the train tracks.

Spring tune up for your bike skills.  Sunday, March 30th is a week away, and you are running out of time to register for Traffic Skills 101.  A comprehensive course in bicycle survival skills including parking lot hazard avoidance drills and a road ride.  Once you've seen the stats, it's just plain stupid to ride around without some sort of bike safety education.  At least 50% of the time, it is the bicyclists fault when there is a crash - and if you learn the ropes - you can significantly reduce your exposure to the vehicle caused crashes.  If you live in Hartford, we're offering a couple of significantly discounted community member registrations.   Contact me if you want to attend at the community discount.

You know it's Spring when Tony C starts planning.  I've just created the June 7th Dinner and Bikes event and opened up online ticket sales.  We've started discussions on the next Real Ride, probably Saturday, July 12th to coincide with the fireworks.  Bike to Work (May) is just around the corner.  There is a Simsbury bike safety course (1st half of TS101) on June 1st.

Interstatement loves the Cinabon / Princess Leia knit hat
Spring chickens in Hartford on Franklin Ave
Disrespectful graffiti tagging.  Some people are dicks.
Neat graffiti next to a homeless camp on the tracks.  
Meeting up to get organized.  On bikes no less.
Justin Eichenlaub just moved to Hartford from the westerly coast and is working to organize a Hartford-centric group to advocate for bike, walk, and transit issues.  Due to it's statewide focus Bike Walk CT hasn't been tuned into Hartford specific issues, and there is great opportunity to keep pushing Hartford in a sustainable direction.  If you are interested, stay tuned to the Beat Bike Blog.  I'll put up notice for the next meeting in April.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Finally, some excitement



I wish I had more to write about lately, but there hasn't been a lot happening on the bike front. I suppose that may still be true, but some excitement has been happening while riding my bike. Yesterday, I was riding west on Asylum to a thing at the law school to learn how to sign up for the bar. As I crossed Atwood, over by the hospital, I hear what sounded like someone driving on a flat tire. I looked down Atwood and that was happening and they were driving pretty quickly. My first thought was that it was like a car chase in a movie. I guess I have good instinct for that, because a couple seconds after the flat tired Accord made an intense right on to Asylum (though slowing down not to run me over) two cruisers zoomed by. Interestingly, they seemed much less concerned with the guy on the bike or the people getting on and off the bus. Then, lots and lots and lots more police cars, SUVs and motorcycles came by in the general direction of the Accord heading down Gillette. 

It seems that the police sort of thought that the car was involved in a homicide, but it wasn't. I guess the car was stolen, but it seems that the chase was triggered by the car no slowing down enough for a speed trap. Also, apparently, they hit an officer's hand with their car. The story seems pretty weird and it just seemed like those involved wanted to have a car chase with their lunch yesterday.

Today, I had to ride to school a different route because the bomb squad had been deployed. Asylum Hill has been under siege.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dinner and Bikes - Hartford, June 7th

SATURDAY, JUNE 7TH
DINNER AND BIKES

After missing out on hosting Dinner and Bikes last year because I was out of town, I'm ecstatic that Elly Blue followed up with a 2014 Northeast Tour.  Elly Blue and  Joshua Ploeg will be bringing vegan dinner, bike movies, and Bikenomics to Hartford on this packed evening of bicycle love.  Doors open at 6PM, and the dinner bell rings at 7PM sharp.


Tickets are available online and I fully expect all 75 tickets to sell out prior to the event.  If you are interested in committing time to the welcome table and setup / breakdown on the evening of the event, let me know.  There are a couple of volunteer spots available.

Bonus karma if you show up on your bike, walk, or take the bus.  Let's fill the fence with locked bikes.

Put it on your calendar right now!

Your evening wouldn't be complete without connecting multiple Hartford venues.  Within a short walk of Emanuel Lutheran you will find Redrock (friendly local pub) and Firebox (fancier local restaurant and bar). 

Dinner bell rings at 7PM


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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pondering Nature vs Nurture and Infrastructure

The question I'm pondering is, "Does car-centric infrastructure drive suburban development patterns and car-centric behavior, or is it the nature of people that drives the shape and design of the infrastructure?"  I'm torn on this one.  I see highway and road design influencing behavior, but also see friends and co-workers making life choices that force car centric living (and the associated infrastructure to support it).  At the end of the day, I'm not sure it's cut and dry.

This past week I was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for a business trip.  Prior to the trip I didn't know anything about the city and had even forgotten that it was the state capitol.   I like to get a feel for the cities I'm visiting with a feet on the streets interview of sorts.  Walking around after a day of hokey meetings is also a great way to clear one's head and get the blood flowing.

In case you didn't get the hint from the horrible design.  Walkers unwelcome here.
First mistake, letting my suburban co-workers choose the hotel.  I don't think we could have been more poorly located for an after work walk.  A total cluster fuck of highways with high speed access roads.  Unconnected mall parking lots and piles of icy snow such that I had to walk in the travel lane.  There were occasionally crosswalk buttons and curb cuts, but the curb cuts were mysteriously unconnected to any sidewalks.  The one crosswalk button (no marked crosswalk) I tried to use at a T-shaped intersection, sent turning traffic right at me.  At this intersection of suck there was an apartment complex across from the shopping mall - an obvious pedestrian connection point.  I spent a good hour cursing the PA DOT and the absolute lack of any Complete Streets consideration.  CT DOT is a shining star of progressive thought if the shit I found in Harrisburg is representative.  If anyone wanted to walk or bicycle in this area of Harrisburg, they would be doing so at their peril.

The question is, "Did the road design only account for cars because the DOT only knows how to make highways, or did the mess of highways and shopping malls come from the development patterns that had to be created to support the people doing the driving and shopping?"  In comparison, the Buckland mall in Manchester, CT has a network of sidewalks and walking paths.  It's not my favorite place to walk or bike, but not entirely neglected.  You can walk from the nearby apartment complexes to the mall.  At no point do you see a "No Walking" sign like this gem in Harrisburg.

Just when all hope was lost, I found this snowy trail network.
On a more positive note, I did stumble across a greenway path, the Capital Area Greenbelt, that was a welcome respite from the mess.  Where the greenway crossed the highway access road, the only way to safely cross was to "step lively" as again there wasn't a crosswalk.

The following evening I abandoned any hope of a relaxing walk nearby and headed downtown by car.  Downtown Harrisburg is entirely walkable, and appeared to be reasonably bikeable too.  There is a gridded street pattern and clear sidewalks.  The riverfront had a dedicated pedestrian bridge crossing that was very nice.  The housing stock in and around downtown was beautiful but appeared to be under utilized.  Lots of For Sale signs and dark windows in the town homes.  I didn't pick the best evening to observe the vibrancy of a city being that it was 5F and blustery, but it looked even quieter than Hartford.  I ducked into the old YMCA building and took a tour of the building, that still had dormitory housing - a rarity among modern day Y's.  There was amazing tile work in the swimming pool.  This sort of thing just doesn't exist in the burbs.

The beautiful pool at the Harrisburg YMCA.
During the work meetings I asked folks where they lived relative to the plant.  It seemed that no one thought the lengthy car commutes of their suburban and exurban home choices were any issue at all.  No one that I met at the plant, which itself was placed in a rural industrial park, lived in Harrisburg.  This leads me to give the nature argument some weight.  When people choose to live a car drive away from work, shopping, and recreation, what option is there but to design infrastructure that primarily deals with car traffic?

Your thoughts loyal BBB readership?  Nature, nurture, or both?

A multi-use bridge, car free, across the river.
Majestic capital building in Harrisburg.
Some naked folks freezing their bits off.  Clearly in pain.
A reminder - there is a Traffic Skills 101 course scheduled for Sunday, March 30th.  You can register now online.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Race, class and bike infrastructure



So, I was at this conference at Yale over the weekend. I had originally wanted to go by bike, because I like the ride down to New Haven. The weather forecast called for horrific thunderstorms, so I drove. I stayed overnight at my friend Marko's and brought my bike because I'm bad at parking and didn't want to worry about my car the next day because I was moderating this panel. Also, you can probably imagine that I like riding my bike.

New Haven has bike infrastructure. Lots of it. It's pretty cool. There are racks everywhere, sharrows and a bike path that'll take you all the way to Cheshire. People use it, too. This includes a person who locked up their Richard Sachs and left it in the rain. I was happy to be able to use it, because Hartford is not as excited about bike infrastructure.

I was thinking and I never think positive things. I saw lots of people on bikes in New Haven, but they generally looked white and middle class. That in and of itself is not upsetting. I fall into those categories. And really, it didn't make me upset with New Haven. Instead, it made me upset with Hartford. People ride bikes in Hartford. Not just people who look like me, indeed mostly people who don't look like me. We've got some racks downtown, but not in very many other places. Although, they're put in a front places where bike riders don't usually go. There was this big master plan to put them in all neighborhoods, but that seems to have stalled. It would seem that not the right people are riding bikes in Hartford, so we aren't going to do anything to help that mode of transportation.

This led to other dark thoughts. The City never clears its sidewalks when it snows and people have to walk in road. Are non-automotive-base transportation modes only invested in or maintained when they're tools of gentrification? It reminded me of the hearing for the destruction of the skatepark/Downtown North. In trying to attract the affluent, we keep hearing about complete streets, walkability and bike lanes. I'm tired of bikes and walking being leverage points for something bigger development project. They're good ways to get around, but please stop co-opting for your luxury condos.

It wasn't always this way either. Ten-twelve years ago, sharrows showed up on Babcock and Lawerence, the bus lane north of Windsor Ave is also a bike lane and Tower Ave has a bike lane. I think this debate went on a long time ago in Brooklyn and it was determined that bike lane marking was a gentrification tagging. Of course, this doesn't explain the bike lane on Maxim Road that goes to the sewage treatment plant. I think that was bike lanes as means to try and stop street racing.

So, anyway, I've decided that I'm against bike lanes now that they're tools of the oppressor.

Ed. note:
This guy did some writing about it and I thought it was worth reading. Read more!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

Here's a question to get you thinking.  How did you learn to cross railroad tracks at a ninety degree angle?  Did you learn about the safer method in gym class at school, during your driver education course, or via a public safety announcement?  Probably not.  If you're like me, you learned the hard way - by having your bicycle abruptly disappear and finding yourself pitched head first into the traffic lane.  I won't forget that lesson, but I would rather have learned it minus the crash.  This is but one example of many dangerous situations that arise for cyclists that haven't taken a course in cycling safety.  Based on the crash data, just knowing what those dangerous situations are and having a basic safe cycling skill set can address a large majority of the risk in using a bicycle - for both transportation and recreation.

There is a dearth (scarcity) of education for cyclists that are looking for information and skills on how to ride safely and competently.  From  grade school through teenage years and into adulthood,  there really isn't embedded education that familiarizes cyclists with the tools needed to ride safely.  Imagine if a fraction of the time and effort spent teaching teens how to drive was dedicated to education on safe cycling, pedestrian safety, and transit.  The focus on one preferred means of transportation, the car, biases those teens toward driving as the socially acceptable option.   It also leaves those that choose to do something other than drive a car pretty clueless.  As captured in the introduction, I initially took the clueless route to earning my stripes as an occasionally bruised, but now much safer, bicycle commuter.

It's clearly not efficient, or safe, to learn how to ride by screwing up a lot and gathering advice in bits and pieces from other more experienced riders.  After a lifetime of going about this the hard way, I took Traffic Skills 101 (TS101) and followed that up with the League Cycling Instructor (LCI) training.  Now I can do my part to spread some very powerful information by teaching Traffic Skills 101 to other riders.  The next course in Hartford is planned for Sunday, March 30th.   You can register online through Bike Walk Connecticut.  If you want to spread the word about the TS101 course, you should invite others to this Facebook Event.

Traffic Skills 101 is a  comprehensive, full-day program for adults and mature teens who want to improve their street riding skills and increase their cycling knowledge. The course includes classroom time, parking lot drills, and a road ride.   Many different types of cyclists will benefit from taking TS101.  It is ideal for cyclists who want to build upon the basics, those returning to cycling from a long hiatus, people who want to be more independent on their bike, and those looking for more confidence cycling in traffic. The class also satisfies the requirements to pursue a League Cycling Instructor certification through the League of American Bicyclists.

Part of the reason for holding this early Spring course is to support the League Cycling Instructor course planned for April 17th through April 20th in Simsbury.  The LCI course is a specialized bicycle boot camp to train the trainers, and it is intense.  Those that pass the weekend course go on to teach courses like TS101 and other critical courses, including school based programs that have started in several CT communities, such as South Windsor and Simsbury.  Educating children and teens about bicycle safety is part of the solution to allow a safe transition toward a less car dependent future.

I'm also excited to be organizing a June 7th event in Hartford, Dinner and Bikes.  There will be a vegan buffet dinner, bicycle short films, and a book talk by Elly Blue on Bikenomics, How Bicycling Can Save the Economy.  More info to follow in a later post, but make sure you leave that Saturday night open.  Put it on your calendars now, as I know June can be a busy month.

Note to Loyal BBB Readers - I would love if all 9 of you would share in the comments something  you "Learned the Hard Way".  It doesn't even have to be about cycling.  I've got so many that I could write a book.


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

No bikes



Not a lot of bike talk lately. The snow is high and the roads are unpleasant.


So, the hearty have transitioned to skiing for recreation.


I've skied all over the place lately and it's really improved my mid-winter outlook on life.


There was some great snow last night that ameliorated the nasty crust. I went over to Cedar Mountain for a little while and I felt like one of those backcountry skiers who are so cool right now.

Last weekend I skied at Craftsbury Outdoors Center, which is such a cool place.



Johanna liked it, too. 


All the skate skiers zoomed past me, but I quashed my insecurities by reminding myself that I could also ski the snowshoe trails. 

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