Friday, August 14, 2009

Bikes & New Haven

I was terribly excited that New Haven just launched a new section of its government website to promote cycling. We're a long way from Portland but this seems like such a positive step. Here's what they have to say:

Bicycling is an enjoyable, inexpensive, efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. In order to expand and improve safe and convenient access to this means of mobility, exercise and leisure, the City has made the provision of bicycle accommodations a high priority.

It will be interesting to see just how the City supports cyclists. I was riding the bakfiets today with two of my fellows inside the cargo box when we passed a construction site where it was obviously break-time as the road was lined with lunching hard-hatted folks. In the two years we've lived here, it's been clear that Yale is continuously undergoing renovations and the re-routing of traffic to accommodate building is constant. As I was stopped at a red light at a busy corner in the midst of yet-another university renovation, I could overhear some of the workers' discussion about our cargo bike and how "absolutely unsafe it is" that I ride with my children. I left the intersection fuming. I am a cautious rider, one to always obey traffic rules and be hyper-aware of cars. The only reason why biking with my kids would be unsafe, I thought to myself as I pedaled away from the negative talk, has everything to do with cars and drivers. To quote a certain well-known cyclist: It's not about the bike.

Anyhoo-- here are a few snaps of some local fun bike times we've recently had.

A night out with my friend C-- another mama of twins (one-year-olds!) and a singleton (6 1/2). We decided to head downtown for a kids-free evening and when I suggested we go by bike, C was up for it. Her sweet husband headed down to the basement and lugged her much-loved Schwinn up the stairs. C said that she used to ride it all the time when she owned her shoe store but her lovely Schwinn had been hanging by itself downstairs for some years.

Going out by bike was tons of fun. It made for simple parking and allowed us to easily hit a few spots without worrying about spaces and quarters. Plus, riding home after some serious eating helps beat the total lethargy too many calories brings. C's been living in New Haven for a long time so after two years of residence here, I finally hit some of the well-known bars that this unhip mama knew nothing about. I was darn full, so looking forward to those Belgium frites another night....
Friday night's pizza night in our home. We've always made the weekly run in the box bike b/c the storage is easy. Clearly though, the Radish will work just fine on future Friday evenings.This summer, I have spotted two, yes, TWO work cycles! (I told you we aren't Portland.) I spied an old-school ice cream trike traveling up the road a couple of weeks ago but wasn't fast enough to get a photo. However, I was delighted to come across Blue State Coffee's coffee trike this week. Coffee + Bikes= two of my FAVORITE things in the world.

Five kids on two cargo bikes. This week, we enjoyed hanging with two friends for the day. When their parents asked what the kids should pack, we asked them to bring their bicycle helmets. We started the morning with a trip downtown for bagels. My fellows, S & C, traveled with me on the back of the xtracycle while P took F and our two friends in the bakfiets. No minivan needed. Cool.


Jennifer said...

Way cool! I've been using my bike to commute between my place and G's all summer due to your good role-modeling. Parking is really a pain in his neighborhood and it's been really a nice way to start my day with a ride through DC city streets as the city is just waking up. I think once the humidity drops here in DC I'll be biking to work too.

Hilary said...

If only I could bike to work! But alas, it's 55 miles and that would probably take me about 3.5 hours each way (if it's not too hilly...but it is so let's make that 5-6). I've thought about parking a little ways away and then biking in, especially because I don't really want to pay the city I DON"T live in for parking privileges. We'll see. Plus I could use some quality time with my Trek. She's a beauty. Anywho I'll let you know how it goes...

MamaVee said...


What pizza do you get BTW? ( Friday is pizza night here too, although we've been having thai lately b/c the kids actually don't like pizza -nor do they like thai- but since we have to make them something separate we realized we can have whatever we want... We were a pepe's family though previously. I hope you can still like me knowing this. ( ppl seem to be fierce about their NH apizza love.)

Love the playdate via bike.

Love the GNO via bike even more. Wish I still lived in NH, I'd GNO on bike with you two. We could even Cargo bike it together!

Finally that coffee trike is sweet. ( I'm still thinking of a business I can do at the farmer's market when the kids are older via my trike. I wish I spun- as I would love love love to sell handspun wool in my trike at the farmer's market. Our market needs a craft tent for sure.

Dottie said...

The whole American idea some have that one is only a safe mother if she carries her kids around in a ginormous SUV (thereby wasting resources and making the streets more dangerous for everyone else) is infuriating. I certainly would have yelled some crap back at the construction workers, but I guess that's not good role model behavior for kids :)

Your friend's Schwinn is awesome!

Terra said...

DC has a great bike advocacy organization - it's called Washington Area Bike Association I'm a card carrying member now! they do a really good job of working with the city council, etc. to make biking more DC friendly and have lots of events. Every year they do a bike-to-work day.

On the note about safety, it does make you want to get mad. I've had comments/questions about my own safety, and once participated in a discussion about the level of safety of a man with an child seat on the back of his bike riding on deserted streets at dusk. If you even have a chance to discuss this with anyone, you can kind of sympathize with the person's desire for safety ("you know at first when I went out with my kids, i was also concerned about that, but then I did research and found that automobiles are statistically far, far greater danger and we choose to ride in those every day, day after day, year after year. So, I decided to help my children by modeling a healthy lifestyle, and riding in cars less, since they are so dangerous"... Just give 'em a nugget to think about, even if it is hard to believe the statistic that cars are more dangerous to people that bikes. Its the same thing with people fear of flying in planes becasue you might crash, while people have no trouble riding in a car their whole lives.

Chris Cavs said...

I found your site from the Path Less Pedaled website where you left a comment. It's great to see someone who is so involved in trying to make biking a part of everyday life. I grew up in Waterbury, CT where NO ONE rode bikes except my brother and me. Now I live in Portland, Maine, where biking is more accepted, yet still not the norm. I'd love to get out to Portland, OR (the OTHER Portland, as we like to say here) and see what the culture is like there. Keep up the good work!