When you ride a bike, you often find yourself off the beaten path. And, if you ride in a more urban environment, that often involves being under bridges, semi (or fully) abandoned roads, organic paths, etc.
As winter has been setting it, there's been a lot of discussion about the homeless in and around downtown Hartford- mostly regarding a no-freeze shelter near Stone Field Sculpture or not near it. As you can imagine, homelessness increases when the economy becomes crappy. Conversely, the money available for organizations who help the homeless when the economy becomes crappy, so there's a lot of scrambling to secure services for a larger customer base. There State also seems to have an intense desire to cut mental health services.
Now, I don't claim to have any more than a cursory understanding of homelessness and its trends, but, without a doubt, there have been a lot more people living and hanging out under bridges or other less traveled places this year than I've ever seen- not just a couple, but a rather profound increase.
It hasn't been super cold yet this year, but sleeping under a bridge with a burning trash can probably isn't sufficient if the temperature drops below 20. Do the service providers know how to reach these fellows? Most temporary encampments are within two miles of the no-freeze shelter on Lafayette, so it's not that hard to get there.
So, I guess the Eel 4 route is something of a depressing tour of economic collapse. Although, I'm really trying not to be some poverty tourist. But, even being a weirdo riding by on a bike makes you feel privileged. I suppose the best I can do is say hello and treat people like people.