Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hartford in a Purple Light

One can ride a bike in Hartford and its surrounding towns. It isn't the greatest bike riding ever, but it is fine. This year I've been fortunate to have a good bit of time to ride. 

It would be nice (will be nice?) if more people start riding bikes here, but it's been good to just focus on riding the bike and to (mostly) forget that the streets are clogged with single occupant vehicular traffic. Rather than having to engage with said motorists on Facebook, I can get all the news I need from the weather report, and from this helpful, quick summary of transportation politics in CT this year: Connecticut 2015, Looking Back on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (in transportation news)

I hear a lot about how dangerous cycling is from my suburban colleagues, which makes a certain kind of sense--they're very inexperienced bike riders, they drive everywhere, and they have a normative driving culture to defend and claw back from the juggernaut of transit-oriented development and BRT systems that provide people like me the choice to ride the bus to work with my bike.  

But I haven't really let them get to me too much. This December has been an amazing month to commute by bike in Hartford metro. Here are some shots from my commute this winter.

Broad Street, looking east, on a foggy day.

There are hundreds of ways to get from the South End of Hartford to Simsbury. Going through Elizabeth Park is one of my favorites.

Riverfront ramble.

My favorite road in Hartford County -- the closed-to-cars service road up to Heublein Tower in Taclott Mt. State Park.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Come in Out of the Basement

Bicycle mechanics are an interesting breed.  These mechanically inclined tinkerers spend a lot of time in their workshops and garages.  They may be putting together esoterically interesting bicycles, or salvaging a bicycle hub with cones from a pile of other hubs collected over years of gathering parts.  Unless they lucked into a friendship with a nearby neighbor that also shares their bicycle addiction, much of this time is spent in solitary.  All that time spent alone can be a detriment to health and social well being.  It doesn't have to be that way.  Other cities have community bicycle spaces, and now there is one in Hartford - BiCi Co.!

If you hang out too long in your basement, you'll end up getting reabsorbed.
BiCi Co. is inviting fellow basement mechanics to join us and enjoy the benefits of being a more socialized human.  Last week we hosted our first Tuesday night "Mechanic's Night".  We tuned up bikes, BS'd about bike designs, talked about rides coming up.  It was great!  The volunteer mechanics repaired five used bikes for Hartford shelter residents.  That's the project BiCi Co. is working on in December.  Bicycles are amazing tools for increasing mobility and jobs access for the most vulnerable in our population.   We'll be holding Mechanic's Night on one more Tuesday in December, 5:30-8:30pm - 12/15.  If Mechanic's Night goes well, we'll start it back up in 2016.

Steven getting tips on wheel truing from a voluntary mechanic.
Volunteer mechanics have also been helping at the DIY Member Hours to guide those that are looking to learn more about fixing their own bicycles.  The DIY hours are Wednesday (5:30-8:30pm) and Saturday (1:30-5:30pm).   Pairing up a mechanic with a newbie is a great way to skill share and get more independent and confident bicycle commuters onto the streets in our city.  A quick thank you to the volunteer mechanics that have been very helpful thus far - Dwight Teal, Ryan McMahon, Chris Brown, Javi and Henry, Steve Leonforte, Damien Stewart, David Blatt, Jesse Varrell, Rich Allen, Mike Zager, Alinafe Tengatenga, Michael Barr, Jeremy Gantz, and Tracy and Ethan Frankel.  We couldn't do it without you.  A rock star team for such a new bike space venture and we're thankful that you've jumped in with us. Our social skills are off the charts in the last two months!
Eva Dougherty - Replaces a fork on a touring bike.  First time!  
Perks? - In addition to the feel goods and the socialization, BiCi Co. will recognize volunteer staff (> 10 hrs per month) with a healthy discount on used and new bike parts.  Because we have an addiction to bikes, this is unreasonably important perk.

Holiday Hours Notice - BiCi Co. will have no hours December 20th through December 29th.  We'll hold DIY Member Hours on Wednesday, December 30th.  5:30-8:30pm.
Henry and Javi - Volunteer mechanics.  Learning the ropes.

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