We are quite lucky that we have friends who put up with our crazy bike love. More than that even, our friends often are fully supportive of our bike habit.
Case in point-- this weekend, we had good friends from Maine visit. When they asked what they should bring, we listed bike helmets and bathing suits as the two most essential items to pack. We never want to pressure folks into riding with us, but we do want to give them the opportunity to see the city the way we do if they wish. At any point, if we had a visitor say that they were uncomfortable cycling here in our city, we would make other transportation decisions. However, the E-J crew was game, leaving their car parked in our driveway and getting around New Haven on two wheels. All-in-all, we had five kids, four adults, four bikes: three cargo and one English roadster (it turned out to be great thing that we haven't yet sold the bakfiets).
On Friday night, J gamely went with me to pick up pizza here, braving the nutty traffic as parents were dropping off their kids off at Yale this weekend. J rode P's 1968 Rudge while I took the bakfiets, perfect for carrying multiple pies. Even though downtown was extremely crowded, we could zip right up into Kitchen Zinc's alley, getting a great view of the cool perspective installation called Square with Four Circles.
Image courtesy of: http://www.archidose.org/Jun10/21/dose-image01.html
Three of the restaurant's staff came out to check out our box bike, admiring it with much praise. As we turned our bikes around to head back home, a wedding party was just coming up the stairs to pose on the side of the Shubert Theater. It was just a great moment watching the purple-clad bridesmaids and decked-out bride, and it made me be glad, yet again, to live here.
The next morning, we had a school picnic to attend. This time we needed to get the whole crew to the other side of town, with a stop to pick up coffee and supplies. B was willing to ride the Xtracycle with one kid, I took the bakfiets with two, P on the Yuba with the other two. We got to see how our Yuba handled with a much bigger passenger (a tall 8th grader!) than we are used to riding, It was an unqualified success although P's thighs got an extra good workout. When we reached Willoughby's, we loaded the big box container of coffee into the bakfiets. I was glad that I had over a year of experience riding the twins in the box because I was able to handle the weight of a four-year-old, a ten-year-old, and coffee for 50 people. And then, we cycled off to the park, pleased that we arrived by bike with all of our guests and supplies without using any gas.
R and A, our two younger visitors, remarked on what a friendly city New Haven is. I must say that being out on bikes definitely helped cement this impression for as we rode, many along the street called out and greeted us. We were happy to wave and return their greetings. And for all the times we come across impatient or irate drivers unhappy about sharing the road, these other interactions-- the positive words and friendly greetings-- make us feel like we really belong to a great community. And I am glad our friends agreed.