Episode Information

CMS: Urban Biking
Aired:
01/26/2010
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In this episode:

How do we bike in Connecticut's cities?

 

Episode Audio

49:32 minutes (23.78 MB)
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In 2009, I didn't get in my car very often. I found I could do most of what I needed to do on my bike. And, of course, that made me feel better in lots of ways.

But you have to have a special kind of life to do that around here. My special kind of life was called joblessness. Connecticut doesn't seem to have a bike-friendly culture. Cars have owned this place for decades and, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, they're not going to yield their place as kings of the world to little people in helmets pedaling along on the immediate right.

Maybe I'm imagining it, but it seems like Connecticut is one of the least bike friendly places around, particularly when it comes to commuting. There is, however, a very lively bike culture, people who ride bikes, sell bikes, fix bikes and blog about the whole thing. You'll meet a whole slew of them today. And what about you? Tempted to leave your car at home? I am.

You can join the conversation. Leave your comments below or e-mail [email protected]



 
Related Content:

Bicycling in CT

I thoroughly enjoyed this program.  Biking is often a solo sport, so it was great to hear  others talk about their experiences.  I ride to work a few times a week between Wallingford and New Haven, year round weather permitting.  I do it for the exercise, and some quiet time, when I can listen to WNPR.  Towns have been creating more linear trails in recent years, and the more people use these facilities, I believe more will be developed.  Colin is a great host!

Cycling in Connecticut

Firstly, thanks to Mr McEnroe and NPR for having us on the air earlier today. It's most appreciated. Alright. I just had a great, long response to all of the negative comments written here but my computer decided otherwise when it came time to post, so here's the shorter version.
 
Long story short, if you want it, you can have it. There have already been lots of articles published about going by bike, so all the excuses written here, the bad roads, the weather, the drivers, all the complaining and bellyaching, needs to stop. If you want to ride your bike, you can do it.
 
It's always easier to complain about things than to step up and do something about it. If you're waiting for CT to turn into the next Portland, OR or Amsterdam, stop waiting and make it happen. Cycling is DIY, punk-rock. Light a fire under your own ass and get things done. It seems that it's become the American way to complain about what you don't like instead of turning that energy into getting things done. So shut up and ride. And if you're still sitting there complaining, don't be surprised when you don't get an answer back....cause the rest of us are going for a ride!
 
If you want more info about commuting, check out the following links:
 
http://commutebybike.com/cats/commuting-101/
http://1world2wheels.org/
http://www.2milechallenge.com/
http://www.bikesbelong.org/
http://connbike.org/
 

Listener E-mail from Sara

 

I was SO excited to hear your show today.  I am thrilled to hear folks talking about bike commuting here in CT and hope more & more people at least consider hopping on their bikes to give it a try.
 
We moved to New Haven 2 1/2 years ago & wanted to remain a one-car family.  Through friends & the blogosphere, we discovered the world of cargo bikes & family biking. We are now hooked! We have three sons (7/7/4) and now two cargo bikes: a Dutch Bakfiets & an Xtracycle Radish (which we bought from guest Matt Feiner's shop, The Devil's Gear).   
 

I work at the school where my two older sons attend & we commute daily by bike.  And let me tell you-- before I discovered cargo bikes, I was NOT a cyclist.  And even now, a year into our bike commuting 'conversion,' I don't look like a typical cyclist. I am an unfit mama of three & while I love the gas money we save, the lessened environmental impact, the exercise we get, the way we interact more with our community, the number one thing that keeps us on our bikes is that it is just DARN FUN. 

 

Listener E-mail from Bill

 Thanks for taking my call.  I would also like to add that commuting by bike really does add to the day, as your guests are saying right now.  I sometimes ride from West Haven to my job in Durham and arrive at work charged and refreshed and look forward all day to the ride home.  

Listener E-mail from Jim

 

For commuting, consider a Breezer Bike. It has the internal gearing that one of your guests just spoke about. It is a simple bike, with bell, lights, fenders, rack, etc. I carry my briefcase with laptop on the back rack, and all the other stuff in a handlebar bag on the front. You don't need any special clothes, except the rain gear also mentioned, and a helmet, of course.
For riding the roads you will encounter, I suggest two things:
  • John Allen's Street Smarts Guide to Cycling
  • League of American Bicyclists Bike Ed courses offered by League Cycling Instructors throughout the state. Check the League's website.
I agree with several comments made about CT being a fairly safe place to bike. The biggest problem emerging is "distracted driving". You might want to comment on cyclists being their own worst enemies by not obeying the rules of the road.

Thanks for doing this show.  

 

Listener E-mail from Katy

Does anyone know if the new Q bridge is going to have a bike/walk way?

Listener E-mail from Elise

I love riding my bike...but not in Hartford. I'm a senior at Trinity College and ride my bike around campus, but wouldn't dare head off campus. The roads are in horrible condition, not to mention that the drivers here are INSANE! I'm afraid of driving my car in this area, let alone riding my bike. Many drivers pass people one the sidewalk, run red lights, and pay no attention to other drivers. I feel like if I rode my bike in my area (Frog Hollow), I'd be dead within a few miles. And I feel comfortable riding in my hometown of Philly and in Manhattan. Any tips for dealing with drivers who just don't pay attention to traffic laws, let alone to sharing the road with cyclists? 

kind of like playing Frogger, but not

I regularly ride my bicycle through Frog Hollow and have been fine. The most nervewracking areas to ride in, I think, are those where the 9-5 commuters are most concentrated. They tend to be in a rush to get in or out.

I have ridden my bicycle through Hartford, even in the middle of the night, and have basically been fine. So far, the worst incident I have had was hitting a huge pile of snow that was plowed across the width of the bike lane on a dark stretch of Capitol Avenue.

Listener E-mail from Rafael

 I been living in New Haven for years and been riding bikes ever sine I was a kid. Now I not only ride my bike for recreational use but I also do most of my commuting to work (27 miles round trip) and around town on my bike year around, not because I don't have a car but because I chose to do so. As hard as it may seem for some people to do it really is not. Just as long as you pace your self as you ride/train, stay focus and committed to what you want. I'm not only bettering my health but I'm saving money, leaving a smaller carbon foot print to our world and most of all I just love to ride my bike. 

     Over the past ten years I've seen a great increase of cyclist on the rode and I hope it continues to do so but we also need help from the state and local town to promote more bicycle awareness for our safety.

 

Listener E-mail from Mike

Does Connecticut have a bike culture?  Not at all.  I have lived in other places where biking is actually embraced and very popular (Munich), and sadly there is no comparison.  

Can it?  Yes, of course, but there are many complications.  Most of our roads are too narrow and there are many stretches without any shoulder.  There are no dedicated bike lanes. Motorists aren't used to sharing the road with bikers.   

Is there a new one rising up right now?  There are many people who would love for this to happen, me included.  With the awful economy, and the broad and growing desire to go-green, the conditions are definitely improving.  

Could you get rid of (or rely drastically less on) your car?  Not really, there is just no safe way to get anywhere from where I live... not even the grocery (busy 2 lane roads, no sidewalks, no bike lanes...).  God I would really love to leave my car in the garage now and then.  

 

Listener E-mail from swampmonster7

 I'd love to ride my bike to and from work 40 miles each way, and am still considering doing it, except it's dangerous:

  • Many CT motorists think the road belongs to them.  Many motorists are ignorant of the law requiring them to share the road, or understand the law and just don't care.  Losing a couple of seconds during their commute because of a cyclist in the way is intolerable.
  • People have been attacked by thugs while cycling Hartford streets, or through the parks.
  • The only established bike trails that get cyclists off the streets do not take cyclists to areas where there are jobs.  (Farmington Valley Greenway is awesome, but it takes me to farmland, not Hartford).
  • CT weather is only conducive to commuting by bicycle for about 7 months out of the year (except for the die-hard extremists).