Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Ghost Bike in Bloomfield

For anyone who knew Paul Hughes or is interested in showing support after this loss to Bloomfield and the cycling community I've added the information below on his funeral service and an associated memorial bicycle ride this Friday.

Join us this Friday, Aug 1, Valley Cycling will host a ride to the funeral of fellow Cyclist - Paul Hughes at 10:15 out of Starbucks in Granby, CT (10 Hartford Ave). The ride to Paul Hughes Funeral will be slow, everyone will wear a black arm band - if you have one or can make one - bring it (piece of a black trash bag works fine).

Paul's service is at Old Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church, 59 Tariffville Road, Bloomfield - about .5 mile from where he was killed. Go past the ghost bike and take the Tariffville Road exit from 189 and go right at the end of the exit onto Tariffville Road. You will go down and then up a hill and see the church, a quaint, beautiful white New England structure, in front of you.  After the service, if anyone wants to visit the ghost bike and lay more flowers, please join Caryn Stedman in doing so.
A reminder that we've got to look out for each other out there.
Heya folks.  Be careful out there, whether you're driving a car or riding a bike someone's life is on the line.  Looking at your lap for 30 seconds to check that random text message about cute kittens isn't worth someone else's life or livelihood.  A cyclist was killed last week in Bloomfield, and it probably wasn't an accident.  The cyclist was killed on a stretch of road that I've ridden often, and there is a wide shoulder.  I haven't seen the police report (if someone gets a copy I'll post it), but I'm guessing the driver was distracted and drifted into the shoulder striking Paul with the right corner of the car - where you see the damage to his truck in the news story.  Overtaking type crashes such as this are supposed to be very uncommon, but with distracted driving now the norm the trend may be changing.  Put down your fucking phone!  The fellow driving the truck may have been a nice guy, but now he's going to have to live the rest of his life knowing that he's murdered a fellow human being.
Note the huge shoulder!
The following information and photographs were provided by a friend of the cyclist that was killed, Caryn Stedman.

Ghost Bike Installed for Fallen Cyclist

Friends and fellow cyclists installed a “ghost bike” Tuesday morning, on southbound Route 189 in Bloomfield, near the Tariffville Road exit,  the site of the crash that took the life of Bloomfield resident and Maple Syrup maker Paul M. Hughes.  Paul was an avid cyclist who rode for the joy of riding and for his health. He often rode the Duncaster Road, Tariffville Road, Route 189 circuit, a popular cycling route for recreational, training and fund-raising cyclists.  Paul was killed Friday afternoon, July 18th, at about 5:15 p.m. when he was hit by a pick-up truck along a section of Route 189 with a wide shoulder well-marked for various fundraising bicycle rides.

Ghost Bikes, an international movement, are eerie, haunting memorials to fallen cyclists. They are placed at the site of fatal cycling accidents to remind drivers of the fragility of life, that cyclists have road rights, and to drive carefully.  Ghost Bikes help remember the life and love of the fallen cyclist, provide comfort for the family and friends, and remind other cyclists to ride safely. Hartford cycling activist and blogger Anthony Cherolis donated the bike.

Paul is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren, as well as his maple sugar and cycling friends, and his Spaniel, Henry. Hughes Maple Syrup is well-known in the Hartford area for its quality and flavor, a craft he in which he took great pride.  A memorial service will be held August 1 at Old Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Tariffville Road in Bloomfield, just around the corner from where he was killed, on August 1.
For more information on the Ghost Bike movement, go to

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Monday, July 14, 2014

A Short History Tour of Hartford, Sunday July 20th

This Sunday, I'm organizing a very informal, free, and short bicycle ride in Hartford as part of the Sam Colt 200th birthday festival (  I've got some complicated thoughts and opinions on the legacy of Sam Colt and firearms in Hartford.  That said a community festival that gets residents and visitors to think about and debate history (and current events) is a win-win in my book.  Colt Park is also conveniently located only half a block from my house.

Colt 200 History Ride – Sunday, July 20th.  9AM.
Meet at the Sam Colt statue near the Wethersfield Avenue entrance of Colt Park.  There is some parallel parking at the Wethersfield Road entrance, and additional parking in the lot off Warwarme.  That said, if you ride your bike to the ride, parking isn't something you have to worry about.

What kind of ride is this?
This is a very informal ride of friends, old and new.  The ride doesn't cost anything.  We’ll meet up and you may choose to ride along the suggested route below.  At several points on the ride the group will stop to chat about the Hartford history we are passing by.  The ride will be very leisurely in pace.  The distance covered is approximately 7 miles if you follow the route described below.

What you need:

  • Your bike.  A bicycle in safe riding condition.  Brakes, lubricated chain, pumped up tires.  If in doubt, get a tune up at your local bike shop.  Fatter tires will be more comfy on some of the bumpy roads.
  • Helmet. A helmet isn’t required, since you’re simply choosing to ride along in the same direction, but I would highly recommend it.
  • Water.  Although this is a short ride, we will take an hour or more to cover the distance.  You’ll probably appreciate having a water bottle, especially if you’re planning to hang out in the park after the ride.   It’s summer time.  Sometimes it gets hot out.
  • Bicycle Lock.  If you plan to leave your bike and walk around any of the historical sites, stop for breakfast, or explore the park after the ride.
  • A great, or at least tolerable, attitude!  You should bring it with you, as we don’t have many spares on hand.


Route Note – This is not a closed course.  You are choosing to follow a suggested route on city streets.   The riders will be obeying the rules of the road and practicing “vehicular cycling”, which is how cyclists are treated the best by motorists.

1) Starting at the Colt Statue head down the hill (East) on the park road.
2) Take a right turn onto the park road before you get to the swimming pool.  Careful.  The park road is a bit rough.
3)     Pass the parking lot, and take a left on Warwarme Ave.  Appreciate the skyline of Hartford looking over Colt Park.
4) Veer right onto Reserve Road.  SAFETY NOTE - Ride slow across the choppy railroad tracks.
5) Quick left into Charter Oak Park. SAFETY NOTE - There are off angle tracks into (and out of) the park – and you should make sure to cross them at a right angle.  We’ll make a quick stop at the gazebo to talk some history.
6) Leaving Charter Oak Park, we’ll take a right on Reserve, and then Left on Warwarme. SAFETY NOTE - Remember to slow down and cross the railroad tracks at a right angle.
7) Right turn onto Huyshope Ave.  Stop in front of Colt CafĂ© and we’ll take a look at the Colt Armory
8) Left on Charter Oak Avenue.  Stop at Church of the Good Shepherd, on the left.
9) Right on Prospect.  Stop at the Amos Bull / Butler-McCook garden on the left.  Then stop at the plaza between City Hall and the Wadsworth Atheneum
10) Left on Gold
11) Left on Main Street
12) Right on Wells Street and continue around Pulaski Circle (traffic circle).  Turn onto Elm Street, and we’ll stop briefly at Bushnell to talk about the Park River and the history of the park.
13) Continue up Elm.  Turn Left on Trinity Street.
14) Turn Left again on Capitol Avenue.
15) Right on Hudson.
16) Left on Buckingham.  Continue straight on Charter Oak.
17) Right on Charter Oak Place up a short hill.
a. Stop at the top of the hill to learn about the Charter Oak.
18) Left on Wyllys Street
19) Right on Osten Boulevard
20) Left on Luis Ayala
21) Right on Van Block Avenue
22) Right on Masseek Avenue.  Enter Colt Park from the East end.  Stop and chat a bit about the history of baseball in Hartford.
In addition to the ride on Sunday, there is a whole day of festival on Saturday

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Heaven in Hartford - Grand Opening Party

This is kind of a big deal.  Heaven, the community graffiti and skate/bike park located just north of downtown Hartford, is throwing a grand opening party this Saturday, July 12th.  In my (not so) humble opinion, Heaven is significantly more interesting than a $60 million AA baseball stadium.  Saturday is also the Riverfest Fireworks (nearby to Heaven) and the Real Ride (biking to the fireworks from Real Art Ways).  The Real Ride will be stopping at Heaven on the way to the riverfront, so if you're chilling there with your bike (or board, or skates) you can hook up with the rolling parade for the final stretch to the park.  More info below on Heaven from Luis Cotto.  

Get there.  Because 'Merica.
Big Shiny Burners
I'm a sucker for sugar skulls
Hartford's first skatepark to open this Saturday, Celebration noon to 4 pm.

Please join us this Saturday at noon at Heaven (New Ross, County Wexford Park) in downtown Hartford, Connecticut at noon for the ribbon cutting ceremony and opening celebration of the City's first skatepark. After five years of effort by members of skateboard, BMX and hip hop community, the park is reopening again in its entirety with a world-class poured concrete skatepark for Hartfordites and others to enjoy. Of course, the history of the park with respect to skateboarding goes back nearly 20 years; as many know it was featured in several seminal 90's skate videos and established Hartford as the secret skate mecca of the Northeast.

The program will be begin at noon on Saturday with remarks from the Friends of Heaven Skatepark, local elected officials and others involved in the creation of this park. Invited and/or confirmed guests include Mayor Pedro Segarra, the Hartford Court of Common Council, former Councilmember Luis E. Cotto, 860 Custom Skateshop, Underground Coalition, the Tony Hawk Foundation and others. Please stay afterwards for demos, live music, graffiti, breakdancing and to use the park (or spectate). Starting Saturday, the skatepark will be open dawn to dusk everyday.

The Hartford Court of Common Council created the Hartford Skateboard Task Force in 2009 with the purpose of advising the City on the potential location, design and construction of a skatepark. Comprised of representatives of the skating, BMX, business, government and park communities, the Task Force fulfilled those goals and undertook fundraising and grant writing measures to ensure that the park would be built. The design for the park was created with strong community input and a devised process via a series of public meetings. Pulling together a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant through the City of Hartford, a Tony Hawk Foundation Grant (first one in CT, making CT the final state in the country to get one) and individual donors, the park was able to secure funding and grow from a dream into reality. Through a competitive bidding process, the design/build team of Stantec and Who Skates was selected, designing and constructing the skatepark in 2013-2014.

The Friends of Heaven Skatepark is a group born out of the legacy of the Task Force to maintain, promote, program and encourage the free use of the New Ross, County Wexford Park and Heaven Skate Park by providing a space that fosters grassroots arts, recreation and culture for Hartford youth and residents.

More information about the Friends group and the history of the project and the space is available at

In the event of inclement weather, the rain date is Sunday with the same schedule.

Real Ride Details - BIKE DECORATING BEGINS AT 6:30 PM, RIDE LEAVES AROUND 8:20 PM.  Starts and ends at 56 Arbor Street, Real Art Ways.  Stopping at Heaven on the way to the Riverfront.  Bring your lights, music, loud clothing, and your awesomest self and friends.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Ranking is beloved by all. This is especially true it seems in Connecticut. Whenever I go to other states, I don't seem to see lists that rank all the towns. We do it here, though. Bike Walk Connecticut just came out with a new one. The methodology seems a little weird. Cyclists satisfaction and municipal engagement are equally weighed, which doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Simsbury being first and New Haven second was not surprising, but New Britain being number three was pretty surprising. I guess New Britain is only bad if you're trying to ride from Hartford to New Britain. Once you're there, it's not so bad.

Hartford is 15. That's pretty good.

The big surprise is West Hartford. They're number 83. That's pretty damn terrible. I guess those few sharrows didn't do much good. However, this bad rating seems to be because they never returned in the survey. I'm pretty sure that they have some bike commission and they have that dorky Wheel Fun Day, so there is municipal engagement. Not that I'm one usually to defend West Hartford, but crappy surveys do no one any good. I mean, West Hartford is full of those dangerous curb bump outs, but I don't know if that's so bad as to rank them 83rd.

Secret new halfpipe discovered.

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