Saturday, January 30, 2010


Colder than this

If one is the loneliest number, what is zero? Well, at 8 o'clock this morning, it was the temperature as I started my six mile pedal on the road to meet my friend Cliff for some thin-snow-cover mountain biking around Case Mountain. We are both fans of low traction conditions that don't involve mud (with its subsequent bike maintenance and trail damage), so some offroad riding was a must, but Cliff had obligations commencing at 11am, meaning early was the order of the day. And of course, early meant cold.

But really, depending on your outlook, cold can be a good thing, or at the very least interesting. I've experienced beard condensation icicles before, but today was truly special. Unfortunately, a camera wasn't on hand early enough to capture the first coating which had individual hairs looking like strands of spaghetti squash; old man winter didn't have a think on me. Still, the nostril stalactites were my best effort yet and survived for your viewing displeasure.

Even my bike picked up its own frosty goodness

So for the "it's too cold to ride" contingent, yes, zero is cold, maybe too cold for most, but if we can manage a good time down so low, maybe you'll want to reconsider the merits of riding at twenty. Just be sure to dress warmly, and keep your feet dry. Thanks mom.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Attention Motoring Public!

This is a stop sign. It means you are supposed to stop.

I share this because I have had two incidents on two consecutive mornings where a motorist's failure to heed this very simple directive has put me and others in harm's way.

Late yesterday morning, I was in West Hartford when a driver lost control of his Pathfinder, slid rapidly though a stop sign and found a very short path into the passenger side of the borrowed car I was driving. The resulting impact spun the car into the front of an oncoming dump truck for a second, more destructive, impact. The car is probably totaled, but all of the humans involved were remarkably unscathed. Amusingly, this was one instance where I wish I had been wearing a helmet, as it would have cushioned the side-glancing headbutt I gave the driver side window midway through this bout of Car Pong.

I was understandably a bit rattled after this, but I was perfectly comfortable (if a touch more vigilant) when I was back on my bike a few hours later for my afternoon and evening plans. Even yesterday evening's scary black ice was tolerable at a very slow, careful pace.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, I was biking north on Hudson Street downtown when a speeding green Jetta overshot the stop sign as I reached the corner of Linden and Hudson. We both slammed on our brakes. He managed to come to a stop in the crosswalk. I managed to lock up my front wheel on some loose gravel/salt mixture, wash out and lay myself and bike down on the left hand side. I was up in an instant, as nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like realizing, "Oh crap! I'm laying down on a busy street!" Again I was happily uninjured, and continued on my way with only a slightly cocked handlebar to show for the incident. The Jetta driver displayed a look that might have resembled one of concern or surprise before driving off without comment. Hey, thanks for that.

It was only seconds later that I watched a woman careen around the Pulaski Circle in her black Mercedes with a cell phone at her ear before turning off without signaling. I saw that one coming and was completely unsurprised. I marvel at how someone can drop a condo's worth of coin on an automobile and won't pony up a few bucks for a Bluetooth or some other headset. The headsets these days are durable enough to withstand any chronic cranial-rectal insertion conditions that some drivers appear to suffer. I don't think there is anything to be gained by turning into a militant car-hating bike zealot, but some days some drivers make that sort of moderation very difficult. I digress.

Stop signs are usually placed at a corner for a very good reason. In the case of the corner of Hudson and Linden (pictured above) there are two compelling reasons for there to be a stop sign. Not only is Linden a minor side street to the busier Hudson Street, but there is what traffic engineers term a big ol' honkin' blind spot there in the form of a brick building smack-dab on the south side of the corner (traffic engineers are a folksy lot). It's nigh-impossible to see who or what is coming from the left until you reach the stop sign. Whomever it is, it would really be bad for all involved if you were to hit them.

In closing, motoring public, look both where you are going and where you would like to go. Slow down. The few seconds you save by driving like an idiot can cost you and others a lot.

Ride safe.
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Thoughts on Voicing Opinions

Maybe it is just the circles in which I spin, but there has been a large outpouring of comments regarding the NPR show from Tuesday. As I said before the show went on the air, give cyclists a chance to interact with the public in a forum that doesn't involve having things thrown at them, and we will jump at the opportunity. For those that listened and those that commented, thank you for helping us feel we are a positive influence regarding the bicycle question.

Truly, I expected, or at least was bracing for, some more callers with negative reactions to bicycles on the road. As it happened, even the one phoned-in gripe about bikes running red lights was not unreasonably founded and seemed constructively worded to me. If anything, this gave us a chance to explain our perspective on the issue: Yes, running lights is breaking the law, and maybe cyclist should refrain, but if traffic laws are about public safety, a 180 pound bike and rider present a small fraction of the risk presented by even the smallest of cars at over a ton.

Now the word "positive" is something I was thinking about before the show, and have continued pondering in the days that followed. In readying myself for the expected but unrealized barrage, I decided the best option for myself and bicycling in general was to remain positive, upbeat, and constructive. In simpler terms, I vowed not to argue. Certainly, there are plenty of complaints to be made about car/bike interactions, and oh yes, these complaints are certainly made, but as I reflect on the callers and comments that expressed a desire to ride more than they currently do, it seems to me the last thing we need to present to people are the negative aspects of riding a bike. In fact, it may be the last thing we need to present to ourselves.

See, in riding a bike a lot, I interact with a lot of motorized road users. As I said on the show, the majority are fine, and some might even go so far as being helpful, but no doubt, I've raised my voice, bumped some fenders, and even once had the opportunity to tumble across someone's hood before yelling at them through their open window. I got mad. Did that accomplish anything? Probably not. Maybe it raised my blood pressure a little, which is thankfully quite low, because I ride a bike a lot. But more importantly, being angry, it seems to me, might make me angrier in everything I do, and therefore more often a jerk. While riding the other night, Brendan again mentioned his resolution to be less of a jerk. Shooting for that goal, we could make life better not just for those around us, but ourselves as well.

Is this the face of an angry cyclist?
(Thank you to Chion Wolf for the photo, which I mangled)
(but Brendan fixed, THANK YOU!)

In reflecting on the show, there is one basic question I should have suggested that Colin ask: "Why do you ride a bike?". Sure there are problems with riding a bike, but at the core of it, there is the answer to this fundamental question. The answer must be pretty good considering some of the risks we choose to face out there on the roads, and it is. Just like the bikes themselves, the answer isn't the same for every rider, but there is something at the core of this sport, actually riding a bike, and loving it, that keeps us coming back. The more the merrier.

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Radio is a sound salvation

We had a great time on Colin's show the other day, with lots of positive and thoughtful feedback since. Read this for instance, it's real good.

Remember, Ice Bike to Work and Critical Mass are both today. Dress warmly and remember that free coffee warms you up 27% better than the kind you buy. Read more!

Monday, January 25, 2010

On the radio & mountain biking nostalgia

First, if you can't get enough of us on our poorly written blog, several beat bloggers and our friends are going to be on the Colin McEnroe Show from 1-2pm. Listen to the story about the time Salem had to boot a tire with his own skin! Marvel at how Chris turned cottered cranks into a Play Station 2! Cower in fear as Ben recounts a nine hour CCBA board meeting! Drift into a deep sleep as Brendan describes mountain biking at the reservoir for the 600th time! ...other people are going to be on the show who may actually be interesting.

UPDATE! In case you thought I was making stuff up, Ghostship Matt corroborates over on his blog. TJ'll be on, too.

Regarding the other side of the ampersand, I was over at my parents' house yesterday with a bike. Leaving from their house, you can make a nice loop of Avon with several miles of rolling singletrack. These are the trails of my youth (I never figured out why bikerag thinks Winding Trails is so terrible, if you know where the singletrack is, it's not that bad. People seem to rate trails by how much stuff there is to huck. My philosophy is not as such.), though there have been some pleasant additions. Sometimes, I would climb over Avon Mountain with my bike on my shoulder to ride at the Reservoir, but that was a lot of work.

I added something to the loop yesterday that I usually don't: Huckleberry Hill, which is on the other side of town. It's probably Avon's most technical riding by a significant margin, because it has rocks and hills. Huckleberry Hill is almost the site of my first bike race ever. In sixth grade I entered the Sam Collins Day Mountain Bike Race. It was a really big deal to me and I got all nostalgic about it yesterday.

In true Brendan-style, I had excellent start astride my Nishiki Pueblo until I hit the climb up Huckleberry Hill Rd. It's a legitimately steep climb, I think it averages about 10% for a third of a mile or so. But, I was destroyed from my sprint start and dropped to the granny gear and lost almost all my positions by the time I got to the top. We entered the woods at Huckleberry Hill School. About twenty feet into the woods, I went around a corner, hit a log, went over the bars, landed on my head and blacked out. I only blacked out for a few second and a very nice fellow stopped to help me. I got back on my bike, caught back up to a few people and finished in second to last place with a flat tire. It was like the coolest day ever. I even got a water bottle as schwag. I subsequently lost the water bottle the last time I rode at Nepaug (like five years ago, I don't ride there much).

Yesterday's ride was not nearly as exciting, though I had a relatively funny crash when my front wheel washed out.

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Bikes Outside: North by North Wet

This morning had me riding to an appointment in Windsor center. There was a negligible drizzle when I left home at 8 AM and it was warm enough to ride comfortably in a T-shirt. The rain increased to something just shy of biblical for the return trip a couple of hours later. My aging Gore Tex jacket was completely soaked through within ten minutes, but my garish "Safety orange" CL&P-issued rain bibs held up nicely. A few of the flooded areas were deep enough that my pedals were dunking into the murky, oil-slicked drink on the downstrokes. Despite my rainy glasses-induced blindness and possible violations of maritime no-wake rules, I was happy to see a few other bikes out and about.

Today, Bikes Outside spotlights a pair of mountain bikes chained up across from the Keney Memorial Clock Tower on Main Street late this morning. This extra small Specialized and its anonymous beater mountain bike companion were chained to a tree awaiting their owners' damp slog homeward. They look to be in pretty good repair and my guess is that this was a short-term parking spot. Big ups to my foul-weather friends, wherever you are. Here's wishing you a nice cup of hot chocolate when you get home.

Speaking of wet-weather riding, today was the first time I used my new Kool Stop brake pads in the rain. With a light-to moderate load on board, the cargo bike stopped very well and only squealed a bit during hard braking when the rims were submerged. I am pleased.
I also pinstriped my fenders with reflective vinyl to look like roads to increase night visibility and because I am a dork. If you are one of the three BBB readers who remember my old art car, this will make somewhat more sense.
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy as a Duck in Water

While riding today in the Marlborough/Colchester/Hebron neck of the woods, I saw three ducks wading and nibbling in a two foot wide drainage ditch on the side of the road. I don't dare claim to be an expert on avian emotions, but they appeared perfectly content, as was I. Truly, sometimes it is the simple things. Read more!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Zumwhat Zilly Zing

On my ride of a few days past with Dario and Brendan, I though, while riding on the sidewalk of all things, to ask if either of them was familiar with "Sidewalk Points." They were not, and it has since come to my attention that in fact, vast portions of the cycling population have not been educated regarding this concept. So, to the best of my ability, I will impart some knowledge on this subject.

First the basics: if, while riding down the street, preferably with others, and most definitely preferably while having fun, you then switch to riding on the sidewalk, you will be earning Sidewalk Points until such time as you are no longer riding on the aforementioned sidewalk. This works best if you vocally announce, "Sidewalk Points!" to your riding companions. It may in fact be possible to earn bonus points should you dismount the sidewalk by riding off the curb rather than a ramped profile, but the rules and experts are not clear on this. Style may count.

Simple enough, right? Well as it happens, Dario and very much Brendan had addition questions, so in case you, dear reader, find yourself also in a similar state of query, here are some answers. Apply them to your questions as you see fit.
-No, Sidewalk Points cannot be redeemed for valuable or other merchandise. Really, why would you want to?
-Of course Sidewalk Points are valuable; they are Sidewalk Points after all.
-If you have to ask about their value, you are really missing the point, and likely weren't paying enough attention while earning your Sidewalk Points. Go back, try earning some more, and see if it comes to you.
-Six and three twelfths.
-Yes, it certainly is possible that a ride without Sidewalk Points is like a day without kumquats.

One last note and important disclaimer: No sidewalk points are earned in any situation that causes fear, distress, or urination for any other sidewalk users. That just wouldn't be cool.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ride the Park River

The Park River comes up a lot when people talk about Hartford. Some people want it to be unearthed and visibly go through Bushnell Park again. Some people like to paddle in it under the City. I think there's some kind of plan to make it in a greenway, in fact I think it's underway. There's a bike path south of Flatbush.

If you've ever been down Brookfield St or the Flatbush Ave entrance/exit ramp, you know that the concrete channel is pretty bad ass. And, it's a pretty bad ass place to ride a bike, at expedition speed or any speed. Best accessed by from Olive Street.

It's strange that there's such an effort from keeping the neighborhood away from the river.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crank Cull

Today, I present to you one of my least favorite bike components ever: The welded-together triple crankset.

I hate these for a couple of reasons: For one thing, they are heavy. For another, welding three chainrings permanently together prevents you from changing any individual chainring due to wear or personal preference. When one sprocket wears out, the whole assembly is effectively junk. The resulting junk is not easily recyclable in that it is mixed metal assembly, a hunk of steel-contaminated aluminum that is unwelcome at the scrap metal yard. I hate waste, and it bothers me that things are made to be so disposable, so I thought I'd see what I could do to repurpose and reuse one.

The subject of this experiment is a mid-90's Shimano Altus 38-32-24 from a Trek hybrid. It shows wear, but the 38-tooth sprocket still has some service life left. If only it could be freed from the albatrosses of its conjoined brethren, it would be a good fit for my current winter beater bike project.

I started by clamping the crank to a table. The fact that the pedal was still attached actually made it easier to secure it, so I'll pretend that I planned that. Next, I took a cutoff wheel to the 24-tooth sprocket, slicing it away close to its center.

I then tried to drill out the spot welds that held the 32-tooth sprocket to the biggest one, but didn't like how that was going. After accidentally drilling completely through the 38-tooth ring, I went back to the table and cut and ground it away with the cutoff wheel.

I ended up making five cuts and then breaking each fifth off with a big pair of pliers. An angle grinder would have been nice for the latter stages, but I didn't have one handy at the time. I made do with the cutoff wheel and cleaned up the sharp edges with a hand file.

I cleaned and sanded the remaining 38-tooth chainwheel, masked off the aluminum crank and primed and painted the freshly -exposed steel. I painted it blue because there was some blue Krylon handy. Whatever the color, a protective layer of paint was a must, given the corrosive salt bath it will endure on a cheap winter beater.

If I owned a drill press and had nice drill bits, I might have been tempted to drill a bunch of holes in it for some retro component-lightening flair, but I there is only so much time I'm willing to spend on this particular component. It's noticeably lighter as it is. This took about an hour from start to finish. I trial fit it to the bike, and it looks pretty good. Other than needing to swap the bottom bracket spindle for a narrower one (for a better chainline), I'm happy with the outcome of this experiment. The end result is that this part will be used again, which was the goal.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Expedition speed

I'm not going to attempt to take credit for the term "expedition speed", but I'm going to do all that I can to propagate it. Dario and I first heard Salem mention it last Thursday whilst we rode slowly through the beautiful and shotgun filled Glastonbury Meadows.

If I understand correctly, expedition speed is another way to say that you're going slow. However, unlike regular going slow, you must have an intent look on your face, gritted teeth and an inflated sense of importance. You probably should wear some wool for good measure. It's perfect for riding this time of year.

A nice thing about expedition speed is that you don't even have to go very far if you believe that you life is part of an ongoing expedition. Thus, my ride to work this morning as well as my mountain bike ride at the reservoir yesterday were all part of the same expedition. The same went for my ride with El Prez and Dario on Saturday, the snowy powerline ride last Tuesday, the hike I took on Sunday with Johanna and the trip across the street today to buy a sandwich. Heady and philosophical, right? I mean, I have no idea where I'm going.

Also, unlike an expedition, expedition speed doesn't require you to carry camping gear or ride a Surly Big Dummy. That'd be totally inconvenient.

I think this may be a little bit like Rapha and their epics, but we do it mainly in color and have mountain bikes. I'd gladly switch to black and white if Rapha started giving me some free clothes. I think my cell phone camera even works better in black and white.


Unrelated, but two observations:

1) Those of you who frequent the reservoir are probably familiar with the very rideable two foot drop on the blue trail about midway along the ridge. Well, the big winds and falling ice (or something) has fell two trees right there, so you can't ride up the hill on the other side, they effect made a 50 foot fence. I'm wondering if a chain saw will be needed or a log stack can be made. Any thoughts those of you who are good at trail maintenance? Should I start being a CT-NEMBA trail ambassador around here? Do they have enough of them?

Drop off in the background.

Fallen trees.

2) The NYT's Spokes blog is generally lame (like the beat bike blog), but they had a very interesting post today about the history of bicycle clubs in the US. I guess the League of American Bicyclists did a lot to maintain the color barrier in cycling (though they have apologized)... sort of like how they want to make cycling in Connecticut seem terrible. Read more!

Ice Bikey Goodness and Free Food Too!

So we are in the middle of a halfway through the winter warm week, what better time to announce the next Ice Bike Breakfast brought to you by the CCBA?

Next Friday, January 29, 2010. Come on down to JoJo's on Pratt Street in Hartford for free breakfast and a chance to talk to other year round cyclists. 700-900 AM, just tell the good JoJo's folks that you are with the CCBA breakfast group (or just say, "I am with the bike people") and have some fun shooting the breeze with like minded souls! Who knows, it might even be cold again by then.....

Sorry to have been offline for a while. Reconfiguring and downsizing the fleet considerably. If anyone here has an interest in a sweet GT mountain bike set up for winter riding (spikes, fenders, the whole nine) or a tricked out Schwinn Homegrown Mountain bike, I have both for sale!

That mixte pic in the previous post is sweet. I have rebuilt and sold a couple of those over the years and also built myself a sheldon brown tandem, I wish interstatement well on that endeavor!! Read more!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bikes Outside: Mixte Up (against a fence)

I often stop to gawk at bikes locked to the bike racks and fences of Hartford and beyond. When talking bikes with friends, it's common for one of us to say, "I saw a cool old blahdiddyblah road bike outside of the library the other day, I've always liked those..." so I thought I would make a series out of documenting some of the street seen velocipedes in Hartford. Barring my coming up with a more clever name, I'm calling the series "Bikes Outside."

I'm shamelessly borrowing this concept from Jalopnik's Down on the Street series, where street-parked classic cars are documented. The rules will be similar. The bikes have to be seen out and about. This is all about bicycles being used for their more utilitarian intended purposes. Bikes on display for sale in front of a shop or at a flea market don't count (I can still post them if they are awesome, they just won't be eligible for this series). Maybe your own bike will be spotted sometime.

Our first entry was spotted in the Northeast neighborhood near the Windsor line. It has two features from the list of things that make me like a bike, in that it has a lugged frame and it is a mixte. I'm not familiar with the Cambridge brand (my search engine attempts all led to a [presumably unrelated] bike shop in Cambridge, MA), but it has an entry level bike boom-era look to it. The center-pull brakes are Cambridge-branded, but look identical to some late 70's Dia Compe's I have. The fancy head tube badge and proper-sounding name show its upscale aspirations. Someday I want to join two steel mixte frames of this caliber and make a Sheldon Brown-style D.I.Y. tandem. I would avoid using Peugeots or Motobecanes (as much as I do like them) because modifying frames and piecing together a tandem drivetrain would be difficult enough without having to find French-threaded parts. A couple of beaters like this Cambridge or some neglected Panasonic or Univega mixte frames would be nice donors for such a project. I acquired an old Bridgestone mixte a while back, but the frame isn't steel and it's far too nice to part out or modify. I kind of want to hang it over the mantel and just look at it for a while.

The limp brake lever and slack rear brake cable mean that this Cambridge has only one functioning brake, a disturbingly common affliction among street-parked (and ridden) bikes in Hartford. I have wondered about what to do about this. Maybe I could make some cards or tags to leave on brake-impaired bikes directing them somewhere for cheap or free repairs. Perhaps a pool of functional unwanted brake parts could be established. I'm guessing this brake-impairment is usually due to lack of money or repair know-how on the part of the bike owner, and I'd hate to see someone get in an accident for want of a few simple parts or adjustments.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Keney Park in Winter

An appointment near our city's northeastern corner ended earlier than expected, giving me a few extra minutes to enjoy the ride to my next stop. In such a circumstance, there's no better route than one through Keney Park.

I rode through the northern entrance in Windsor and took the paved road past the cricket fields, pausing to inspect a puzzling milk crate full of tropical produce sitting atop some fresh-split wood. The traffic noise faded quickly, and there were few other people around to disturb the silence. Even Tower Ave. was unusually quiet as I made my way between the upper and lower park.
In the southern section of the park, I took the nature/ fitness path. Nobody has bothered to clear the snow from this and many other paths in the park. I guess that's not very good from a park maintenance standpoint, but to be honest, It was kind of nice that way. There was just enough snow for ambiance without making pedaling significantly harder. The lack of seasonal leaves opened up the view to the horse corral. At the southernmost end of the park I pedaled hard and fishtailed the bike on the black ice-covered walkways. Again, this is not very safe or good maintenance on the city's part, but I found it entertaining.

When I lived in New Jersey, my friends and I would avoid the Jersey shore like the plague until after Labor Day. It was then that we were free to fly our kites and enjoy the warm water without traffic or interruptions. Parks in the winter can be like that. Most people don't think to enjoy them this time of year, so you can have the whole place to yourself.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vote for us!

We're definitely the best blog in Hartford, so vote for us in the Hartford Advocate Readers' poll. You can do it online. Read more!

PowerPoint to the People

This past Tuesday evening found me in the grand environs of The Bushnell for the Bicycle Friendly Communities Symposium. The CCBA email I had gotten about the event didn't go into a whole lot of detail, but it was close to home and seemed worthy of attention. It was time well spent.

The last symposium I attended at The Bushnell was an iQuilt presentation sometime last year. As the only one who had biked to that event, I was compelled to point out that The Bushnell had no bike rack. I sidestepped the bike locking issue by walking there last night, but was wondering if they had gotten around to adding a proper rack. While that was not the case, I was impressed and surprised to see that they were allowing bikes to park indoors. Well done!

Inside I saw faces familiar from (Ice) Bike to Work and other CCBA events on my way to my seat. Kerri was in the house taking notes for Real Hartford. Sandy Fry welcomed everyone and introduced Tom Maziarz, Director of Transportation for the Capitol Region Council of Governments (or DOT4CRCOG for short) said a few words about their work on "Bike and ped" issues. Having walked to the event, I wasn't sure I like being known as a "Ped," but I certainly do have issues, so I let it go. His main point was a need for better awareness on the part of both the public and especially the decision makers in local government. Up next, CCBA President Anne Hayes said a few words about their recent efforts and achievements like Complete Streets and the (sadly, oft ignored) Three Foot Passing Law before introducing their featured guest Andy Clarke, president of The League of American Bicyclists.

Clarke began with a brief overview of the League's history (founded by our man Albert Pope, thank you very much) and their mission of bike advocacy and education. He launched into his rather comprehensive PowerPoint presentation by speaking at length about L.A.B's Bicycle Friendly America program and how communities were rated and ranked. He explained how cities apply for the "Bike Friendly" status and how the League helps them achieve and raise their respective rankings. Clarke cited some familiar positive examples from the US and abroad, but was quick to point out how sick to death everyone must be of hearing about Copenhagen and Portland. That said, he pointed out two important things: Firstly, these cities have reaped tremendous benefits from gearing thoughtful infrastructural planning to the everyday use of bicycles. Secondly, they were not always like that. He showed photos of traffic-choked European city streets from a decade or so ago to help illustrate what a dramatic transformation can take place with the right actions.

The presentation moved from what has been done to what needs to be done to increase bicycle use and awareness. One matter that was touched upon was that many people feel intimidated by bicycling in different ways, all of which I could identify with. Risk of injury from motor vehicles is always on people's minds with good reason. The image of cycling as a hardcore competitive sport can serve to alienate the would-be everyday bike rider as well. Clarke spoke of surveys that showed that many customers rate visiting their local bike shops as an unpleasant experience. I've had all of these experiences myself, and I'm decidedly more of a bike nut than the average U.S. citizen. Clarke showed examples of humorous ad campaigns geared toward getting people out of their cars and onto bikes. The main (and obvious) point is that we need to get more people riding bicycles. Let it be fun, let it be social. Let it be something that isn't a huge commitment or a daunting undertaking. Identify the obstacles to getting more people on bikes and work to overcome them.

Make cycling the most convenient option and people will ride.
Go back and reread that last sentence out loud. It's important.

There were a few handouts, the most informative being the League's "Bicycle Friendly America Yearbook." I have not yet read it from cover to cover, but skimming it showed profiles of 95 Bicycle Friendly Communities and 13 Bicycle Friendly Businesses, and a hell of a lot of ideas and standards to aspire to. All of this information and more can be found on their website.

There were no bombshells or revelations here. There were a lot of useful ideas and examples as to how we could try to make bicycling in the Hartford area a better experience. Hartford's specific issues were not really discussed per se, but there was nothing so unique or revolutionary about the ideas that bike friendly communities had implemented that would prevent us from adapting them here. There is strength, safety and overall benefit in numbers. I'll be happier when I don't have to improvise a bike rack at many destinations or venture outside of city lines to pick up a few bike parts or accessories on short notice. Hartford's bike scene is small. There's a certain allure to being part of a small group, but bicycling as a whole should not be that small group. I'd love to see bicycling become ordinary and ubiquitous enough to support multiple thriving fringe elements. The fanatics and purists have been there all along and they are important, but it's detrimental to cycling if most people are not comfortable making a bike part of their everyday routine. We can all do something better to spread the word, and would all do well to think about how.

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