Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bro'd Rage: My ugly encounter with a dangerous young driver. PART II- making contact

In Bro'd Rage Part I, I left off with my trip to Hartford Police Department HQ to file a report. I later sat down and wrote a detailed description of the incident, a version of which became yesterday's post, and more detailed, names-naming version of which I emailed to a selection of HPD and College officials first thing on Monday.  On that morning's commute, I had noticed a few security cameras along Summit Street where the  took place, so I asked to see the archived camera footage for the appropriate time period.

If Big Brother is watching, he oughta help a small brother out once in a while, amiright?

I heard back from both Campus Safety and an HPD officer the same day. I visited CS headquarters and saw footage of the Green Toyota Tundra turning right from a campus parking lot and heading northbound on the wrong side of the street. It then disappears from camera view, followed a few seconds later by me pedaling southbound. Less than a minute later, the Tundra reappears, heading southbound at a high rate of speed. A different camera captured the moments where the truck pulls up even with, then in front of me, its brake lights ablaze as I veer toward the left. This not only validated my report, it actually made things look a bit worse than I had thought. I was told they would share this with the HPD and with the Dean of Students Office for review.

This was encouraging, not only because it seemed like Campus Safety was being much more proactive and transparent than before, but also because this was verifiable proof of my account of the incident. In addition, it occurred to me that this video would be great to incorporate into the next Traffic Skills 101 class I'm co-teaching with Tony. I asked for a copy of the video, but was told (not at all surprisingly), "'s the policy of the institution to only release our reports and video to the administration."
So much for transparency.

Later on Tuesday, I took a look at The Trinity Campus Safety Daily Crime Log for the Friday of the incident, which was posted sometime Tuesday afternoon. This above screen shot, taken at that time, shows my disappointing discovery. There is no mention of this incident, despite my having reported it to Campus Safety and followed up with them multiple times since then. It appears that I am officially less important than two computer monitors and a cell phone. My brief flirtation with optimism for the college's administration's response was fading away rapidly.

More developments as they come in Bro'd Rage Part III
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bro'd Rage! My ugly encounter with a dangerous young driver. PART I - The Incident

The Trinity Admissions Gate: area of my initial encounter with the wrong-way driver.

Last Friday morning, I was commuting to my job at Trinity College here in Hartford, riding my Yuba southbound along Summit Street as usual. Suddenly, I was startled to see that a dark green Toyota pickup truck had completely crossed the double yellow line and was heading northbound, directly at me, in my southbound lane. I yelled, "YO!!!" as loudly as I could to alert the driver of the truck whilst swerving to avoid a head-on collision. Collision avoided, I continued southbound on Summit, a good sight more shaken and annoyed than I had been moments earlier.

Trinity's Hamlin and Mather Halls overlook the scene of the verbal abuse and brake-check
I continued southbound toward the south side of campus and my office. Just south of the College Terrace intersection, I was startled anew to see the pickup roar up by my left side. The driver of the truck, a white male around 20, shook his middle finger and screamed obscenities (unintelligible but for the many F-Bombs) before pulling ahead of me, swerving toward the right and slamming on the brakes. I veered left, avoiding another potential collision, pedaled hard and caught up enough to get the license plate number and a better look at the truck. Having apparently turned around specifically to harass and threaten me with the truck, the enraged bro sped off heading southbound.

I immediately called the Hartford Police Department to report this incident upon arriving at my office. An HPD officer meet me a bit later at Trinity's Broad Street Gallery, where Studio Arts majors' Senior Thesis shows were being critiqued (I work in the art department). I stepped out of the Gallery and gave him my account of the incident. At this time, a Campus Safety officer was driving by on Broad Street, and the HPD officer motioned him over. He parked and joined us, I repeated my story and description, and shortly thereafter rejoined my colleagues in the gallery so as not to miss any more of the critiques. Both officers seemed friendly and efficient.

I called Campus Safety after lunch to follow up on the case and was told that HPD did not file a report, opting instead to let Campus Safety "handle it" based on the truck's description (NJ plates and a Trinity decal) making it likely the truck's driver was a student. The CS officer I had originally spoken with said that the truck had not been registered with the college (which is required), so they didn't know whose it was.

I was outraged. It was pretty clear to me at this point that this case would go nowhere if I didn't pursue the matter. My report of a Class D Felony was poised to go nowhere fast, and there aren't enough "Oh, Hell No"s in the world to describe how willing I was to accept that. Unfortunately, I had a wake to attend on Friday afternoon (this was kind of a lousy day), so I was unable to follow up until the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, I spoke with an officer at the Hartford Public Safety complex on High Street and filed a report. Now I had a case number and a List of things to do first thing on Monday. I let you know how that went soon in Bro'd Rage Part II

This incident took place at approximately 9:45 AM on Summit Street in Hartford.
Dark Green Toyota Tundra extended cab pickup truck with a Trinity College decal on the rear window of the cab. White male driver, approx. 20 Y.O. New Jersey registration M91-CXN 
If you have any information to share, call the Hartford Police Department and reference Case# 14-13179

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Keney Park Mountain Biking

I'm glad "mountain", "biking", "Keney" and "Park" don't have any s's in them, because I just went to the dentist and the tip of my tongue is numb. I'm going to have to say those words a bunch tonight because I'm* delivering a presentation to the City's Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission about putting a mountain bike trail in Keney Park. I don't mean like a walking path that you can ride a bike on, but a curvy and twisty thing that's funny to ride a bike on. As you know, this is something I've want to have happen for a long time and kizmet between people interested in expanding the trail network at Keney (Friends of Keney) and people wanting to expand mountain biking (Jon Tarbox) both talked to me around the same time. I'm really excited to start raking things with Jon. When I organized that 'cross race five years ago, he was awesome, so this should be equally awesome.

I'll keep you posted about what sorts of things you can do to help.

*Actually, it's a we. Jon emailed me to say that he'll be able to make it tonight. Read more!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I have no idea how suspension forks work

I have this bike that I don't talk about very much. It is a Kona Kula Deluxe from 2006. I bought it in like 2009 (2010?) and I rode it for awhile, but after this race in Massachusetts that had a section with 3' of standing water, it didn't work well for awhile. I've finally fixed most of it. For some reason, I decided to replace the suspension fork. I don't know that much about those things, but I decided to upgrade the Fox Vanilla R to an F32 Float 120 or some such thing. I bought it on ebay and it said it had 100mm of travel, but it's got way more than that. It's actually pretty awesome once set up correctly for going fast downhill. However, it raised the front end and I seem to have no braking power on loose terrain. The raised front end makes it hard to climb steep stuff (keep popping wheelies) and the lack of braking makes it hard to stop. I also go downhill a lot faster with the suspension fork thingy, so I'd hope for more stopping power, not less. Lower my bars? Is that all I need to do? Fox makes a shorter travel-ma-jiggy, but it costs money. What advice do you have? Read more!

Monday, April 21, 2014


I was looking at twitter this morning and saw this bizarre promoted tweet from REI. Why are all these clothes in the bike lane? What does this mean? I'm usually annoyed when a bike lane is full of junk. I don't stop, inspect it and then buy it.

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Let's have Earth Day, but not tell Anyone

Mark Twain knew how to stir up his audience
Has anyone heard about the Earth Day event going on at Hartford's Riverfront Plaza next Sunday, April 27th?  Someone sent me an email about it last week.  I'm glad they gave me a personal heads up, but that isn't going to do much to bring in attendees.  It was also confusing to me that an environmental event in Hartford hadn't reached out to Bike Walk Connecticut, CT Rides, or CT Transit - especially if one of the themes is sustainable transportation.  For example, Bike Walk Connecticut is planning for the May Bike to Work events right now.  I'm personally involved in the Wednesday, May 14th event in East Hartford.  East Hartford is going all "big tent" and calling it a Bike and Walk to Work Breakfast.

It drives me bonkers how poorly many events are publicized in Hartford.  It doesn't have to be that way, and it's not that difficult to do an adequate job.  If you're going to spend the time organizing the actual content of an event, please put aside the time (and a little budget) for the outreach and publicity.  There are so many amazing events and shows in Hartford that have an imperceptible audience.  If a show is lacking publicity and attendance suffers, you're doing a disservice to yourself as the organizer.  It hurts a lot (I know) when you spend days and weeks planning an event, and then only a handful of attendees show up.

This past Saturday I stopped by Charter Oak Cultural Center for live ukulele and dance as part of the severely under publicized  Hartford New Music Festival.  There were maybe six people in the entire auditorium.  I made it a point to attend after catching one mention of the event via FaceBook.  Deborah Goffe was performing, and I hadn't seen her dance yet. Deborah and Kevin Hufnagel put on a splendid performance for the intimate audience.  I didn't know a ukulele could do that, and Deborah accompanied with much strength and grace.  There is another concert next weekend, and you should follow the link to get more information.

Such that we don't continue this pattern of well performed, but under attended shows I'd like to offer some basic tips.  Remember.  I am not an event planning professional.  This is common sense.  You have it.  Use it.  And you don't have to be the organizer to make these things happen.  Bit players and volunteers working with an event can help to bring the outreach and publicity home.  If you don't see it happening, it probably isn't - and that is your cue to chip in.
  • When picking the date and time for your event spend at least 15 minutes thinking about conflicts and your target audience.  Google the date to make sure there aren't other events that would draw your same crowd.  Consider which nights and times seem to work for events like the one you're planning.  For example, don't schedule the same day and time as the Wadsworth First Thursday or RAW Creative Cocktail Hour if you are targeting Hartford's arts crowd.
  • Plan your event far enough in advance that you have time to announce the date and do appropriate publicity.  I like to target having enough detail wrapped up at least a month in advance for small events.  For big stuff you might need 3-4 months, and really big stuff with major sponsors I would recommend almost a full year in advance to catch their funding cycles.
  • Do the cheap and easy stuff first.  Facebook event.  Post it to the various local media outlets.  LetsGoArts. Write your own blog post.  Put links to the event page or FB event on your page and other related FB groups that you belong to.  Ask your friends to share the link.  Ask folks that have said they are going to attend to share the link.  
  • If you know of organizations that have a similar mission or individuals that have a lot of connections.  Send them an email with the event blurb and link.  Ask them to share the information via their email list, blog, or Facebook.  Reach out beyond your immediate circle of contacts.
  • Posters.  Yeah.  Posters are nice, but they take time and money.  First make sure you get the electronic posters up on blog posts and FB Events.  If you have the time and money, spread printed posters around at locations and businesses where folks will see them and the event will be reinforced. 
  • Hit them.  And hit them again.  Unless they are Superfans, you need to touch them multiple times before they pull the trigger and buy a ticket or put the event on their calendar.  Just because you sent out that link on FB once doesn't mean that folks are going to magically show up.  It only takes a couple minutes to re-invite, send out event reminders, and update that FB event page with a teaser update.  
  • Sell discounted tickets ahead of time.  If you're coordinating a larger event, pre-sale tickets will guarantee a bit of income to offset expenses while also increasing buzz.  You can ask those that purchased tickets ahead to spread the word to friends, and they are now part of the publicity network.  
That's all I've got for now.  Please get better at publicity Hartford-ites.  We've got so much going on and it's a shame not to tell folks.  Hartford does "Have It", so let's not be shy about spreading the word.  Mark Twain knew how important publicity was, and we do too.

Note:  This post has very little to do with bikes.  Well aside from my event organizing associated with bike-type events.  I'm creating a new blog called - In Hartford We're All Famous Together.  I'll use that blog venue for posting non-bike related musings on Hartford. 

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inland sea

The Connecticut River is supposed to crest tonight in Hartford and I am beset with writer's block for this paper I'm supposed to write about water police, so I took to the floodplains this afternoon to see what I could see. There is a lot of water. It looks like this is the most flooding that we've had since Irene. Looking at all that water has not made want to write about California water law enforcement anymore, though I did think about it a lot while staying at the Rocky Hill ferry.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rain feet

It's raining today and in copious amounts. I have a rain coat and I have fenders, but that doesn't prevent my shoes, then socks and then feet from getting wet. I hate spending a day with wet shoes and socks. I have some giant muck boots, but they're awfully huge.

So, I had an epiphany this morning: I'll forgo socks altogether and ride in flip flops. They dry quickly and allow my feet to try quickly. This plan may not work all year or in situations where flip flops are a tad informal. Also, I did end up slightly more of Hartford's road grit between my toes than I would typically like.

I know Grant Petersen rides in knock-off Crocs, but I still have some self-respect, so I don't do that. Read more!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Interesting new ways to make yourself tired

Hiking is fun and so is cycling. Generally, though, the hike a bike is not something the people seek out. It's good for character building, but you try to avoid routes where you spend an hour carrying your bike your shoulder. I did this once and was proud to say that I did, but I'm not jumping at the chance to do it again. Hiking is best done without a vestigial bicycle.

What I do recommend is riding to a hike and then locking up your bike. You get to spend maximum time outside and it discourages going too fast: you don't want to ride too hard so that you have energy to hike and you don't want to hike too far so that you can ride home. I did this yesterday wherein I rode over to Ragged Mountain, met some friends and went for a hike and then rode home. Originally, I was going to get a ride home, but apparently everyone thought I was super tough and didn't bring a bike rack. This probably doesn't work if you're planning to go hike Mount Adams or something starting from Connecticut in a day. It does work, though, if you want to go to Ragged Mountain or Heublein Tower or something more low key.

It's sort of the same principle as riding your bike to go fishing.

Ragged mountain is mostly not all that great for mountain biking. Would anyone want to ride on this? There are a couple of interesting sections of singletrack off in the unpopular part of the Reserve over by the powerlines. 

I was lying on this rock for a half hour yesterday looking at the trees and contemplating my trivial existence.
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Garage Bikes Join the Fray

The Hockanum Trail is still a bit wet.
This past weekend was an explosion of cyclists getting back out on the road after a long winter hibernating.  I can't imagine the torture of riding on a trainer or running on a treadmill, so I'm of the always outdoors variety.  Welcome back delicate garage bicycles and their riders.  We missed you.

I wanted to share a couple of upcoming events with you such that you aren't caught unaware and flat footed:

  • Saturday, April 26th.  Hartford Bicycle Studio Pop-up show.  One night only.  7PM at 30 Arbor Street.  Local artists and functional art bikes.  Patrick Connolly puts his spin on the Hartford bike scene.  Facebook event with more info.
  • Detour de Connecticut - Saturday, April 26th.  Brendan already told you about this.  If you do the Detour and then go to the art show, I will will buy you a beer.  And then I'll scrape you up off the floor.
  • Bike to Work Events - Various dates in mid-May.
    • East Hartford Bike and Walk to Work Breakfast.  Wednesday, May 14th.  6:30AM-9:00AM.  On Main Street between Pratt & Whitney and Goodwin College.  Free breakfast and other bike safety items for attendees.
    • Downtown Hartford Bike to Work Breakfast.  Friday, May 16th.  Meet at the Old State House between 7AM-9AM.
    • Other events across will be announced by Bike Walk Connecticut.  Register your own town's Bike to Work event here.
    • Bike Buddies and Meet ups help get new bicycle commuters started.  Stay tuned to Bike Walk CT for more information on those, or offer to lead in a group yourself.
  • Dinner and Bikes.  Saturday, June 7th.  Vegan dinner, bicycle movie shorts, and Bikenomics with Elly Blue.  Tickets available now.
Do you bike, walk, or take the bus?  If you're reading this blog and that isn't the case, I am questioning your sanity.  A group of Hartford citizens from various neighborhoods are organizing to get more attention for sustainable, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation.  Hartford has had plenty of advocacy for single occupancy vehicles and parking lots, now we're putting voices behind the other side of the argument.  Join us.  Take a survey on what the name of the group should be, and what issues it should be working.  If you're available, it would be great if you came to one of the upcoming meetings.

See you out there.  Be safe, especially if you're rusty from riding stationary all winter.

Some photos below in honor of carrying silly things on bike trailers.  Justin just moved across town and was photographed doing so by Real Hartford.  Huzzah for awkward loads that are easier to move by bike than car!
South Green neighborhood had a cleanup day, and I needed to move the supplies across Colt Park.
This absurd table base will be used somehow.  Statue base perhaps?
This Burley just followed me home and is likely to be converted to a cargo trailer.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mountain biking in New Haven and the Detour

I'm working on a secret project in Keney Park. In order to do research on it, my friend Marko invited me to go mountain biking in New Haven. Actually, it had nothing to do with Keney Park or research. We'd been planning on riding at West Rock for like six months and it never happened until Thursday. On the way to the West Rock, we rode through the East Rock, which has a mountain bike trail. And, this mountain bike trail has signs indicating its use by New Haven Parks and Recreation. Ratcheting of the New Haven/Hartford war, they've got a legit mountain bike trail in a city park with fancy signs. Not to mention, they've got that huge skatepark in Edgewood Park. I know we have cricket fields and some parks with a lot of roses, but we need to bring our parks in the 90's with some skateboarding and mountain biking. We don't want to lose to New Haven. I know we've got the state capitol, but all that does is not pay property taxes.

The East Rock trails aren't really that long, but they're pretty fun. West Rock is also pretty cool. I really like that road that runs along the top of the park. I am jealous of New Haven and it's rocks.

Also, Salem's Detour, which goes nowhere near any cities, is happening again this year (Apr. 26, 2014, 8am, leave from the beginning of the Hop River Trail in Manchester) and it looks like the snow will be melted in time. I think it's the same route as last year, which is a great route. I had some friends living in Hampton, but now they live in Lebanon. It's nice that they stayed on Detour route, so that I have a place to spend the night when by constitution gives out.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

It is Time to get Organized

*** Meet at 6pm on Monday, April 7th at Fire and Spice.  Hartford specific bike, walk, bus advocacy group is forming.  ***

What is with all the surface parking lots?  Why are there very few neighborhood to neighborhood bus route connections?  How come bus route frequency falls off a cliff after 6PM?  What can we do about it?

"Hartford Has It!"  Hartford has a lot of bus transit, walking, and cycling for transportation.  A significant portion of the mode share is not single occupancy motor vehicles, particularly for those living downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods.  The question is, "Why isn't there more attention paid to and money spent on those options?"  Some might say that the issue is income, race, and class discrimination.  While I'm sure that is part of the problem, I'd say that another contributing factor is that there isn't an organized group of citizens and community leaders advocating for transportation alternatives.
A chicken or egg conundrum, it seems.
Well, rather than simply talk in circles and debate, Justin Eichenlaub has decided to organize some citizens in Hartford.  In ten years or so, we can look back on this and decide whether the organizing was useful.  I'm going to put my money on organized citizens, as talking in circles is so fucking tiresome.  The next informal meeting of this fledgling group of active transportation advocates is on Monday, April 7th or 14th at Fire and Spice, because people are hungry after work.  He's taking votes right now on which night works best for those interested.  To make things easy, I'll post the date of the actual meeting in the comments once it is announced.

Single occupancy vehicle travel.  Going the way of the dinosaur.
While we're talking about transit.  Ken and I visited New Britain this past weekend via the mostly paved CT Fastrak route.  Aside from Ken's two pinch flats en route (railroad rocks), it was a very rapid transit on bikes.  Unfortunately once the bus route opens the only sanctioned bike path will run from Newington Junction to New Britain.  In the meantime, I unofficially encourage you to check it out.  Fastrak commuters will get a solid dose of industrial back waters, dynamic graffiti walls, and natural areas - without having to ride their bicycle on train tracks.  Not much better if you ask me.

Beat Bike Bloggers sampling the future of Bus Rapid Transit
Check out these sexy stations.  There is a place to stand, sort of out of the elements.
And industrial wastelands.  My favorite thing.
Reminder.  Dinner and Bikes.  Saturday, June 7th.  Vegan food.  Bicycle movie shorts.  Bikenomics.  Get your tickets ahead of time and put it on your calendar now.
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