Monday, November 15, 2010

Bikes Outside: It's Lonely at the Summit

This morning, Bikes Outside takes a field trip to a near-flung corner of hard hittin' New Britain. There, on the grounds of CCSU, Bike Walk Connecticut held their first Bike Walk Summit this past Saturday. When I arrived a little early to help with check-in, mine was one of only two bikes in front of the already-buzzing Memorial Hall. I braced for another embarrassingly sparse bike turnout at a bike event, but a few more bikes did arrive in time for the official start of the event. By the time the first break rolled around, there were eight bikes locked up outside including mine. Two more attendees rode their bikes and parked them inside on the stairway landing. While this disqualified their pampered rides from Bikes Outside immortality, it did bring the observed ride-in total to 10. While this is an improvement over last March's rainy annual meeting, it's still pretty underwhelming for an event with an estimated attendance of 160, and no, I don't think (m)any of the other people walked there. The weather was really beautiful this time, too.

The bikes that were representing were of the practical sort. Fenders and racks were the norm rather than the exception. The Kettler Elegance had internal gearing, dynohub lighting, a Trinity College decal and was made from alurad, a lightweight alloy of aluminum and radness (comparable, but not identical to the "aluminawesome" and "alubitchin' "alloys) A Breezer Uptown 8 rocked similar specs. A couple of Trek hybrids that I know well from years of CCBA Bike To Work breakfasts were there, along with a few more bikes, a tadpole recumbent trike and my own cargo bike (not pictured). The summit itself was a success. There was still plenty of bike bonding and policy discussion, etc to be had inside (which warrants another post when time allows), but not enough bikes outside.


Schleppi Longstocking said...

Why might bike advocates not be biking to their own conferences? How do we light a fire under their spandex-clad asses to get them to begin practicing what they preaching?

Tony C said...

I only saw 1 or 2 true spandex clad asses at the event. I was personally disappointed that THE statewide bicycle conference was held in New Britain as opposed to downtown Hartford where shoreline participants could have attended via train if so inclined.

I was one of the bikes inside (the Kona). I had forgotten my lock (oops). Originally I was told I couldn't park inside, but I conveniently ignored that.

I did meet up with two co-workers from PW at the event and we brainstormed getting PW to be more bike friendly (showers, etc). They both drove to the event, since it was way out in NB and they are both East of the river. There were several good presentations, and a few that I was curious how they even got on the agenda. Overall a worthwhile event despite the non-optimal location.

I think this momentum, albeit not car free and pure, is a step in the right direction. Most bike commuters in CT are only "occasional" bike commuters, but that is better than "never" bike commuters. As the culture changes and gas prices rise, the mode share will continue to increase. The Bike Walk CT folks are an important part of that culture change.

Interstatement said...

CCSU is admittedly out of the way for some, but they have been really cool about allowing Bike Walk Connecticut to use their facilities free of charge. I found a nice route there from Hartford when I attended some other bike events, so I don't mind the ride.

I would definitely call the summit a success, especially for a first-time event. That said, I maintain that a single digit percentage of bike-in attendees is really weak, especially on a weekend day with good weather. I made no observation or tally of spandex cladding, but I would have preferred not seeing the bare ass I witnessed when some dude was changing out in the open in the men's room.

Brendan said...

1) it's lycra, not spandex

2) we're a bike blog. it's not really the place to make fun of bike attire. I wear lycra all the time. it's not stylish, but serves a purpose.

Interstatement said...

Right. Lycra then. I span corrected. Anyone who has observed my wardrobe knows that I'm in no strong position for fashion critique.

That said, I still maintain that bare, sweaty man-ass is an inappropriate and unpleasant thing to be displaying in a public space.

Brendan said...

I said wearing lycra. not taking it off.