Saturday, July 30, 2011

Brendan: master of route 5

Once again, I was in Vermont. I rode around, finding exciting woods roads on top of mountain, ancient settler roads (and a nice man named Wayne, who told me about old families and roads) and hidden ponds. I like doing those things.

However, I'm setting off for foreign lands tomorrow and we only brought one car to Vermont. Johanna wanted to stay until the end of her vacation. So, I rode my bike home. The first leg was Glover to Brattleboro and the second leg was Brattleboro to Hartford. It's about 240 miles, but I made a wrong turn in Northampton on the bike path so it was 250. The first leg was 153 miles, which took me about 10 1/2 hours (all told, I started at 8:30 on Thursday and got home at 3:30 on Friday (I took a nice long sleep in between days)). With the exception of VT rt 122 at the beginning, it was spent on rt. 5. I'm sure there are more elaborate and exciting routes, but rt. 5 is actually quite pretty and quiet with the exception of White River Junction and St. Johnsbury.

The river.

The ride on rt. 5 from Brattleboro to Greenfield is surprisingly nice, too. I-91 has really reshaped rt. 5 into a pleasant road for long stretches. Coming into Massachusetts, it was so quiet, I thought I was on the wrong road until I got to a sign in Bernardston. Deeper into Mass, it gets a little busier, I took a couple of sidetracks that I'd learned from D2R2 and then got on bike path in Southwick. I guess the bike path goes north of there, but trying to figure that out is what got me off track in Northampton.

D2R2 land before the big day.

I don't really think big thoughts while I'm riding my bike, so my only takeaway was that rt. 5 is comprised of men pretending to be working on important projects, trucks and lawn mowers-- just miles and miles of those things. There was some cute town centers between St. J's and White River, but mostly the abovementioned three. Also farmer stands need some diversity beyond cucumbers, corn and squash. Well, I ate two very good peaches in Westfield.

Read more!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Climate change!

We've been having some turbulent weather lately, but when a late July ride in CT includes building a snowman, that's just getting too ridiculous. Ok, ok, it did happen, but that isn't the whole story; Wednesday, Damian and I wandered around E. Hartford and S. Windsor looking for places to aim. In those not-quite-aimless ramblings, we wound up behind the S. Windsor area, where they apparently empty the Zamboni every now and again. Reminds me of Mount Lemmon in Tucson where, on a 60 degree day in the valley, one can see cars driving down from elevation with snowmen on the hood. What fun!

But expanding on our aimful search, Damian and I found an array of trails along the CT river heading south from Vibert Rd. in S. Windsor. A decade or so ago, I had tried to reach the river by a road further north, but after being stymied by private fencing, I'd given up the search. So, it was with surprise and joy that we were able to continue down along the river well south of the Bissell Bridge. Again, what fun!

On to Thursday, and a lengthy ride with my Pa to parts of CT north, namely Somers and Stafford, and even a touch into Massachusetts. I've meandered through these areas before, but this time, the nose led us onto countless dirt and woods roads. I'd guess from Manchester to the state line we covered about 10 miles or less on pavement. I smell another Detour (de MA-CT?) route in the offing.
The view from atop the Soapstone observation deck was superb,
although violent crimes seem on the rise.

Read more!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

cars kill more people than guns

The automobile, a tool invented to safely transport people with all its crumple zones, airbags, seat belts, safety glass, computers and various safety systems; kills more people every year in the United States than the gun; a tool invented to kill.

Huh? WTF? Yep.....the automobile is more deadly than the gun. Wake up! Scary huh?

It is true. Over the last few decades, roughly speaking.....

every year fire arm deaths are in the 30,000's and motor vehicle deaths in the 40,000's, check it.... arm deaths.......motor vehicle deaths


You might be saying this can't be true. I got my facts from Wikipedia and the CDC. I first read this in BikeSnobNYC's book (a great, great great read by the way!)

Automobile Deaths in the United States

This is a screen shot from the CDC website. There is no way to link the actual page due to the way the information is collected, but if you click here you can access all kinds of statistics.

Soooo. How is this possible? Its a symptom of how the whole paradigm is whacked! The police and politricks are full of "safety first" and "protecting people" with their rhetoric, while the real problem goes unchecked. There is a rarely enforced 3-foot passing rule in this state as well many others. There is no patience. There is no true regard for life and health. Where are the police? Where are the elected officials "concerned" for our safety?

Anyone can get a freakin' driver's license and go out and terrorize and maim and kill. Hmmm...lets get all crazy and Patriot Act about this. Lets compare to how many Americans die yearly from terrorist acts versus from automobiles. Think about it.

No, really, think about how whack the system really is. Safety is a mostly a bullshit buzzword. The reality is laws, attitudes and behavior put many, many things above safety. How many drivers swerve or drive or park in the "bikelane"? How much do politicians speak about gun-control and gun danger and guns and the young? How often do they speak of driving safer? Driving with more respect? It makes NO SENSE. None.

Ride safe. Remember that beeping revving car has absolutely no more right to the road than you. The fact that a car is more deadly, heavier, faster or more powerful than a bicycle does NOT give it more rights. The fact it costs more than your bike or may be in a hurry does not give it the right to bully you off the road. Call the police. Report bullying. Report unsafe driving. You have the right to be safe and pedal in peace. Ride Safe. Ride Smart. Read more!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things Worth Saving (Monday, Wednesday and beyond)


Triple-digit heat and news feeds full of horrible things made the last couple of days lousy ones to spend indoors or out. It also would have made it easy to miss hearing about a Milford, CT Driver's depraved vehicular assault on a cyclist. This past week, 20-year-old Louis A. Melfi III, having reportedly verbally threatened and knocked down a bicyclist with his car, then reversing toward the man again, crushing his bicycle, was arrested and slapped on the wrist with a paltry $500 bail and evading responsibility and reckless driving charges.

Think about that.

From a minimal blurb about this case, I'm hearing an assault using deadly force, multiple counts of threatening by TWO people including a death threat, violation of the three-foot passing law and destruction of property. From the charges and the paltry fire-sale bail, it sounds more like a lousy driver who pulled a stupid and took off. That sounds astoundingly and irresponsibly inadequate. Would someone who deliberately fired a gun at someone's head TWICE but merely grazed their ear be let off so easily? Would the person who shouted, "FIRE!" to the shooter face no repercussions whatsoever? If so, remind me to stay the hell out of Milford. I feel safer in Hartford. It sounds like the Milford Police consider a person to be less than a person when they climb on a bicycle. Shameful. If this angers you, one of the things you can do is support Bike Walk Connecticut's efforts to protect vulnerable users. Advocacy is the more positive and attainable goal than, say, crushing Mr. Melfi's car with a monster truck (though, in theory, if you did so without being reckless or fleeing the scene, Milford Police might not charge you at all!)


The historic Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry, hobbled by reduced hours of operation, is being dangled over the chopping block by Governor Malloy along with the Chester-Hadlyme ferry. The ferry is the nicest way I know for a bicyclist to get across the Connecticut River, and it connects two especially nice areas to ride to boot. The threatened Aug. 25 closing of the ferries would be a sad day, indeed. If you'd like to get involved and informed, there will be a Save The Ferry Roundtable this very Monday, July 25th at 7 PM at the Welles Turner Memorial Library, 2407 Main Street, Glastonbury, CT.


As mentioned previously in this space, Cedar Mountain in Newington is threatened by the Toll Brothers' desire to replace natural settings with shoddily-built McMansions and condos. Your next opportunity to speak your mind about this affront is this coming Wednesday, July 27. The turnout at last week's Conservation Committee meeting was weak, so please take some time this Wednesday evening to be seen (I seem to recall organizers suggesting that supporters wear green) and heard. Newington Town Hall is at 131 Cedar Street, Newington, CT. Meeting is called to order at 7 PM. Read more!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Route 3 bike / ped crossing momentum?

They' re holding another public info session on the Rt. 3 bridge on Aug 10th (Wed) at the Glastonbury Riverfront Community Center.  300 Welles St.    7pm.  If you can't make it you can email Tim Fields (  Spread the word!

This seems to be getting a good bit of DOT attention.  The Glastonbury Bike Walk Committee is one of the reason this didn't simply slip by without consideration. 

I'll be there with bells on.

Read more!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Please be careful

It would seem we've reached the part of summer when everyone has lost their minds, because the accidents in the Courant keep getting more nuts. Things seem especially dangerous if you're on a bike. Two people have died and one is very injured. Here, here and here. One involves a train and details are vague, but it's sad that a guy got killed riding near train tracks. The other two involve a crazy person in Manchester and a hit and run in Stamford.

All the while, of course, ESPN, based in Bristol, is making light of cyclists getting hit by cars. So, you should probably stay inside for the remainder of the summer.
Read more!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why do we need stories like this?

I have a New York Times alert for things about bikes because I'm a dork. Lately, it's about been about a bike race in France. For awhile, it was about the crack down in New York and how evil Janette Sadik-Khan is.

Today, I see this:

U.S.: Bike Lane Plans Move to San Francisco's Fell and Oak
Plans to provide bike lanes on Fell and Oak Streets in San
Francisco, two rare east-west thoroughfares, could result
in traffic backups or eliminate parking.

Now, they've gone all the way to San Francisco to write about what a terrible idea bike lanes are there. I've only been to San Francisco twice. It has a lot of traffic and not that many bike lanes. I've been in cars, on a bike, in public transportation and foot there. Car was the most difficult. I think it's safe to say that the traffic will remain status quo.
Read more!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Most cyclists like to keep track of many statistics associated with their riding. I don't have a cyclocomputer, SRM or GPS. I have a GPS in my phone, but if I ride further than 15 miles, it seems to kill the battery. I'm not really interested in speed or wattage, but I am interested in how far I rode. So, I use mapmyride and gmap-pedometer. You've probably noticed that I'll link to those sites periodically. Recently, due to twitter, I signed up for dailymile. Pursuant to its name, I attempted to post every bit of distance. After a couple of months, I started to feel enslaved, so I've decided to stop using it. Sometimes, that's how I feel about this blog. There's no reason to write about what I do on bike. Maybe I should get better at photography or something. Read more!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It is hot


It is hot, but I still like to ride a bike. So, I go slow. It seems to work out well. I rode around in a cotton tshirt this evening and I didn't even sweat through it.

And, I had soup for breakfast.
Read more!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Putnam update

Semi-apropos to my post earlier, since I rode under the Putnam Bridge on my way to the ferry. That fellow at the DOT wrote back to those of us who emailed him. It adds a glimmer of hope for those who want to ride across the Putnam Bridge legally.

Hi Mr. Mahoney. Thanks for the e-mail. The Department is in the process of evaluating widening the Putnam Bridge to include a pedestrian crossing. At this point, there are many issues to overcome to make this a viable option. First, we need to further evaluate the bridge to determine how wide a sidewalk we can put on. I'm not sure at this point we can obtain a "bikeway". We are looking at a walkway in the area of +/- 6 feet on one side of the bridge. The cost of modifications to the bridge in order to support a walkway is in the area of $7 to $10 million. We have not identified this funding.

The other issue is the cost of developing the approaches. This cost is not included in the above figure. There are a multitude of issues with developing the approaches, including funding, access for those with disabilities (ADA), wetlands, and others.

The Department has reached out to the Towns of Glastonbury and Wethersfield to coordinate a stakeholder meeting in the near future to discuss access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Thanks again for your e-mail.


Read more!

Out of shape

I don't know if it's the heat or what, but I went for a ride out to Willimantic yesterday and felt terrible. I guess I hadn't really been on a ride longer than 50 or so miles in almost a month. With D2R2 not that far away and all these other long riding things I want to do, I guess I better start riding my bike again.

It was a pretty day, though, and it was nice to be in the shade of the airline and hopbrook trails, even if I got a chapped butt (see? I'm truly out of shape).
Read more!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Car Free in CT - Summer Report

I've enjoyed nine full months of being car free in CT.  It has been some time since the last Car Free article, and there is much to share.  The last week has been marked by a rash of flat tires, which aligns with my state of mind these days.  Slogging along in a bit of purgatory, dealing with manageable, yet irritating flat tires.  I imagine that my active transportation choices help me cope with life's flat tires.

Before we talk about sunburns and swampy shorts, let's take a retrospective look at our friend Winter.  The 2010/2011 winter was passed reveling in snowy Connecticut roads more passable to my humble bicycle (with studded Nokians) than the four wheeled tanks that purport to serve rugged utility.  Although the CT snow was a welcome challenge, I sorely missed the camaraderie of the hardy winter bikers that swizzled the flat streets of Chambana, IL.  The almost negligible bike mode share in CT drops beyond negligible to negative for four lonely months of bicycle hibernation.  That said, my first winter car free was a suitable proof test* of car free life.

Spring seemed particularly short, as the 90 degree days started early.  Before things warmed up, I snuck down to Pittsburgh to kick off a week long bike trek to Washington DC along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal trails.  Although the third week of April may not have been the best choice for weather, the ride still took pole position in my limited list of tours.  I gush about the ride and route to anyone willing to tolerate my vociferous adulation.  If I get inspired, you may see a stand alone article on this memorable ride.

Oh yeah, and my cuddly trail mate Valerie.  She was golden on the Pitt to DC ride.  The photo of Valerie is on the not quite finished portion between Pittsburgh and McKeesport.   In true free riding fashion we connected developed segments with rail corridors, a bit of light trespassing, and only a little bush whacking.   Aside from that short 15 mile segment the rest of the ride was on well marked, and relatively smooth trails.

Back to car free in CT, Connecticut is a marvel of beautiful and epic bike rides.  Despite the culture, music, bike scene, kick ass bike coop, and generally awesome folks, I always felt like something was missing in Chambana.  It was the hills, the forests, and the rivers.  Fortunately CT has these natural features in spades, which somewhat makes up for shortfalls in the other categories.  I rarely looked forward to recreational rides in Chambana, whereas exploring CT on bike (and foot)  gets me all bubbly and excited.  I've logged three epic CT rides this summer thus far:
     - Salem's Detour de CT
     - A solo ride to NYC and back, with a detour to Massachusetts.
     - Another solo ride to Boston and back.

All three of these rides could warrant its own article, but I doubt the articles will be written, because I'll be too busy riding.  One notable skill that I've been picking up is ' stealth camping' - unofficial camping in a convenient park or roadside wooded area.  This handy touring tool saves money while resulting in very memorable camp spots.  The photo of the powerlines sunset was a stealth camp on my way back from Boston. 

My short two mile commute to P&W is so easy that I occasionally walk to mix things up and get an even more intimate view of the neighborhood.  Some coworkers living nearby experience the same door-to-door commute time in their cars.  

It appears that rising gas prices and perhaps even rational thought have started to convert more to bike commuting - as you can see in the overloaded bike rack near my office.  Several motivated souls also created the P&W Bicycling Club, replete with an intranet website for sharing bike commute tips.

Non-work commuting has also been an elementary exercise.  I'm two miles from several groceries and my panniers or baskets hold more than enough.  Larger or ackward loads can go in my trailer (shown in photo), which can ferry as much as the trunk of a small car.  Passing shiny F150s stuck in traffic with empty truck beds engenders a special smug internal glow.   Yes.  Bike commuters are smug.

In summary car free life is running just fine.  My commute is fun, it keeps me fit without conscious effort, and my cost of living is clearly lower.  I even turned down a job offer this Spring, otherwise very attractive, because it would have been unworkable car free.  Car free has graduated from a nice to have, to must have in my life. 

*In engineering speak a 'proof test' is when a component is stressed beyond all expected operating levels before being put in service. 

Read more!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sorry for all the bike advocacy posts but,

Congress is in a budget cutting mood.  If you think bike / ped dedicated infrastructure funding is too important to cut, you can tell our CT Representatives and Senators. 

It's easy.

Biking to the Riverfest fireworks this evening.  Perhaps I'll see you out there.

Read more!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Making some noise about Putnam Bridge

There was a recent public info session held by the CTDOT with regards to the planned new deck for the Putnam Bridge.  This is the Route 3 highway connection between Glastonbury and Wethersfield.  The bridge connects two important residential, employment, and shopping centers. 

Wouldn't it be grand if there was a bike / ped crossing like CT-190?  If you agree, now is your last chance to contact the DOT ( and your elected officials.  My note to the DOT is included below.  Feel free to steal. 

Date: Jul 2, 2011 3:41 PM
Subject: Fwd: Putnam Bridge

Scott Hill,

I am a car free bicycle commuter in CT.  I recommend the studying of adding a cantilevered bike / ped crossing to the Putnam Bridge. 

This is a particularly important transportation and recreation link for non-motorized travel.  It becomes even more important with the reduced hours of the ferry.

CT recently climbed from 40th to 21st in bike friendly state rankings.  Bike / ped  rankings will continue to climb if infrastructure projects make every effort to encourage human powered travel.

Thanks for your consideration.

Tony C
East Hartford, CT

Read more!