Saturday, March 14, 2015

When Biking Became Critically Important

Tired of the snow?  It's almost gone!
First, I'd like to remind folks that Spring is coming, and with Spring I expect that the temperature sensitive cyclists will start peeking out again, finding their cycling gear a bit tight after a winter of hibernation.  To welcome these Spring flowers back onto the road, we'll have another breakfast IceBike to Work to close the season.  Cyclists, pedestrians, bus riders, and those car pooling are invited to hang out and chat about how the sunshine is chasing away their blues and the world seems born anew.  This is a great time of year for positive thoughts.

IceBike (and Walk) to Work
Friday, March 20th 
East Hartford at Maddie's from 7:00AM to 8:30AM
Hartford at Ashley's from 7:00AM to 8:30AM
Just show up!

Those that are new, or returning, to cycling should take time to learn about safe riding, and how to operate around car drivers who are feeling careless and randy as the Spring approaches.  I highly recommend taking the Traffic Skills 101 course that will be offered on Sunday, April 12th in Hartford.  Half of bike crashes are "bike alone" - your skills can be improved.  Half of crashes with cars are "cyclist at fault," which can be improved significantly once a cyclist is trained in vehicular cycling.  You have direct control over 75% of crash causes, and you will learn how to indirectly manage the vehicles around you for the remaining 25%.  It is an amazingly powerful course.

Traffic Skills 101
Sunday, April 12th
Hartford, CT @ Thomas W. Raftery

And now for the kicker.  As of March 20th, I'll no longer be working at the engineering company across the river.  For better or worse, I've chosen to chase a dream of doing more community focused work.  As the youth coordinator for the Center for Latino Progress I'll be running their Escalera college prep and leadership program for high school juniors.  This is where my bicycle becomes critical.  Going from an engineering to non-profit pay grade is a significant change.  Not owning a car eliminates a huge expense.    I don't see how folks working for $20,000 or $30,000 a year can manage owning and maintaining a car.  It doesn't make sense.  

I'm excited for the opportunity to make a difference in Hartford.  In addition to the societal benefits of the program, the tighter finances will push me to utilize cooperative resources that are just starting to operate in Hartford.  I recently posted offers and requests to the Hartford Hour Exchange, and just this morning banked three hours of bike maintenance.  In the time bank model, I can trade those three banked hours for three hours of help or service from another member.  Quite a novel and beautiful arrangement.   In addition to the Hour Exchange, I'll be more actively using FreeCycle to continue using goods handed off by others.  I recommend West Hartford FreeCycle, as well off folks give away amazing stuff.  

You have now reached the social and political commentary portion of the blog post.  When I stepped away from my well compensated engineering position and into a life of more fulfillment, I didn't realize that it would be in the same week that United Technologies announced that it is abandoning their Hartford offices, moving 175 employees out to the Farmington suburban campus.  It was also the week that the Hartford Courant reported that UTC's ex-CEO received a $184,000,000 (so many zeros) separation package.  How does one human justify making 1000X times the salary of a full time minimum wage employee in their company?  So much disgust fills my heart.  Not sure what to do with it.  Any suggestions?  I think I need to go ride my bike to re-find my happy place.   
Sometimes one feels like a cranky bear.
You good reader have an impressively long attention span.  I'll close with this opportunity to squeak a little bit into the ear of the CT DOT about the I-84 Redesign.  Take a one question survey, and help solidify a major goal of the I-84 redesign in Hartford as a Complete Streets project.  They are surveying for a reason.  It takes public support to justify one design approach over another.  Let's make this highway work for Hartford's neighborhoods.  A true Complete Streets design approach could repair much damage and dissection caused by the unsafe designs of the many entrance and exit ramps.  While you're at it, start following the associated I-84 project website and Facebook page to stay abreast of public comment opportunities.  Infrastructure projects take a long time.  To affect change, concerned parties have to get engaged early and often.  Thank you for taking the time and caring enough to speak up.

2 comments:

UTC Employee said...

$184,000,000!!!!!!! What does one do with so much money. I love capitalism and I love the fact that "anyone" can make it is America. However, the former UTC CEO did not build something from scratch (like Gates, Jobs, Musk, Pope, Twain, Rentschler, Batterson...) many can say he was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time - essentially I am saying anyone given the sam opportunity could have done the same as Chenevert, so is this kind of retirement package justified - NO!

With regards to UTC leaving for the burbs, it really shows that the management of the company has trouble with value of things that don't show up in a spreadsheet. Companies across the country have been dropping thier suburban campuses and moving employees back to the city (http://www.nuwireinvestor.com/articles/workers-and-companies-moving-downtown-leaving-suburban-buildings-vacant-61904.aspx and http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304281004579222442197428538). Even in Hartford, Aetna and The Hartford have closed their suburban offices and moved back to Hartford. UTC is going to have difficulty recruiting the next class of MBAs out in Farmington. According to WalkScore.com, the Gold Building is a walkers paradise and very bikeable compared to the Farmington Campus being car dependent. Also, this is a company that makes money off of dense urban areas, why would they move to a sprawling suburban campus? How many elevators are in Farmington compared to Hartford? Meanwhile, the economic growth in Hartford and New Haven is much greater than the suburbs (http://touch.courant.com/#section/2354/article/p2p-82976105/).

UTC has not just missed the boat, they are walking right off of the pier.

TTU alumni said...

Just discovered your blog, so naturally I'm creeping your older posts.. Great on you for moving into a college prep rolr, I coordinate with some folks with Upward Bound, and I see the work they do change lives and set students up for a bright future. Good luck in it going forward!