Suburban riding

May 21st, 2014 by dotriderblog

This past year I sold a house in Dorchester. I’d been part of the place for 25 years and even ran my wool business out of it even through last year. While we had moved much of the actual wool handling out of the barn, all the scales, two wheelers, wool baggers, shelves and material for a wool showroom and warehouse were left there gathered dust.

When the sale came through I was planning to rent a storage unit or two and let thing lie. My brother in Philadelphia had been doing all the wool shipping and eventually I figured he’d want to retire and I’d be back to shipping wool. That was the plan anyway.

Then we found 28 Draper Lane and the old Draper Felt Mill in Canton. The Draper family has been there for almost 200 years and we hit it off. They rented us one end of the old finishing room for a nice cheapo rate and suddenly R.H. Lindsay Company was reopening a Boston warehouse/showroom.

How does that relate to the head line topic? Well Canton is in the suburbs. 28 Draper Lane is 10 miles from my home in Dorchester. Does that sound like a nice ride? It sure did to me and I bought a nice Fuji touring bike from Ashmont Cycles to accomplish it. We’ve only made the ride a few times as it always seems I’m lugging stuff out there or back, but as the weather has improved and the chore and carry lists are getting shorter and I’m getting more established riding is bound to occur in a more regular fashion.

Hence I’m now a suburban rider. Having grown up in the suburbs I knew what it meant, but after 30 years of riding primarily in Dorchester or Nantucket, the wide open streets of Milton and Canton provided an entirely different challenge.

First the road sides suck! Even before the winter sand and salt, the sides of the roads were full of trash, sand, stones and totally rutted and bumpy. I thought Mass Ave in front of the Christian Science Center was bad. YUK! Send out a sweeper eh? What a mess.

Then the extra distance changes the clothing requirements. During the winter you have to make sure you can stay warm for an hour. During the warmer weather you don’t want to get so hot you’re a ball of sweat. Certainly a different challenge than my 4 mile jaunt from Dot to JP. Shunning the back pack looks like a move I’ll have to make.

Then there are the drivers! No matter how crazy they are in town, most cars are restricted to the point where you don’t encounter many folks going faster than 30 or so. Not so out there. 30 means 50 to many suburban drivers. The same passing on the right, going over double lines, pushing past folks who are ahead of you occurs out there only at a higher speed. YIKES! Oddly though the same slow but steady pace works nearly as well in the suburbs as is does in the city despite the relative speed of the demons. It only takes me about 5 minutes longer to ride out there than to drive.

A big area where cars are a huge threat is where the road is 2 lanes each direction going over the highway. The exit on and off ramps have cars angling double crossing lines blasting out or into them with no regard for smaller slower moving things like bicycles. You need to be doubly aware.

So now I have a lot more empathy for folks I see out riding in their stretchy gear. Good luck surviving with crazy fast drivers darting around and crappy dirty sides of the road. It won’t stop my ride, but it has proven to be a different challenge than I expected.

How riding a bike has changed my driving…

February 25th, 2014 by dotriderblog

Despite my daily devotion to urban bike riding, I do own a car. I drive a lot of miles too logging between 12-14,000 miles per year over the past five years. While most of it is highway, I figure though the riding I’ve done extended the life of my last car at least a year. The fact the driving I avoid is the city driving which is the hardest on my car in wear and tear and the worst for mileage only helps that case. Anyway, let’s get to the title of this piece and examine how riding my bike has changed my driving.

First understand I’ve been a resident of Boston since 1981 and I grew up in the suburbs during the frenetic period of constant highway construction. I know Boston’s streets as well as anyone. The same goes for just about anywhere on the South Shore or Metrowest. While I’ve only lived in the Fenway or Dorchester, my kid went to schools and programs in Hyde Park and Brighton so traversing the city is old hat. Most of that time I would compete with just about everyone to get to the next light first and be the first one in line anywhere. Short cuts, u-turns, slides down lanes that are closing, honking often, sliding through lights and Stop signs all done as a matter of course like a majority of drivers. Outside of town I traveled for work calling on customers from Woonsocket, RI to Lawrence, MA. We know a lot of variations on how to get just about anywhere in between.

Today however I find myself going the speed limit in the city at the most, even 25 or 30 on roads that ‘feel’ like you could go much faster. I use my encyclopedic knowledge of light cycles and variable routes instead to glide to a stop without my foot being on the gas or break pedal. Yeah, coasting. Just like riding my bike.

This gliding creates a new kind of interface with my fellow drivers. In other words the rushers who climb up my butt in the vain hope they might persuade me to go faster. Yeah dream on. I know if they find a way to pass me I’ll be sure to return the butt hovering favor at the next light. At least 90% of the time anyway. And folks do find remarkable ways to pass. I’ve had them pass on the right in a bike or parking lane. I’ve had them go around lane dividers down the wrong way. Seeing that I’m amazed there aren’t more accidents in Boston than there are now.

On the highway the gliding continues, although I will speed it’s never more than 5-10 over the limit. Then I defer as much as possible to using the cruise control (more coasting and better mileage) as much as possible. I’m always looking ahead of the folks directly in front of me trying to ascertain how to gauge my speed in the case a sudden stop is required. In jams I’m the one who has loads of space in front of me where folks cut in and out. I always seem to be the one moving though. I’ll also get off the limited access highway and take an old state road with a slower speed limit if I can save enough distance. Knowing how to go pays off.

I still slide through most yellow/pink light as in my riding coming to a complete stop is the enemy of making good time. For my motto in riding is the same as in city driving, “It’s not how fast I go, it’s how little I go zero.” Of course I can often avoid that on an open street by knowing to speed up or just slow down and coast as my chances of making the light are slim.

One other way my driving reflects my riding is that I rarely, if ever, pay for parking anywhere in town.  While riding is easy in that you pull up to your destination and chain your bike to what is handy, there’s no way I’ll reveal how to Park for a Red Sox game or down town show for free. I can say where it’s different is that free car parking is never right in front. However, knowing where the spots are is actually enhanced by what I see when I’m on my bike. Often I notice a soft spot one day on my bike, only to use it for a show at the Huntington or elsewhere.

So the advantages of being a daily rider pay off in a lot of ways, even when I’m driving.

Response to Joan Vennochi

December 27th, 2013 by dotriderblog

Joan Vennochi hit on some interesting points related to bicycling in the city and its position in the political landscape. While her auto-centrism shouts out from behind her attempt at neutrality, she’s right that cycling shouldn’t be a conservative or liberal issue.

But driving cycling into the local political landscape is important. The common ground we share is our local streets. For too long automobiles have had the sole franchise on street planning, parking and infrastructure investment all at the cost to others. It’s no wonder the demographic of today’s early adopting riders are young men as the number one thing preventing more folks from riding is their fear for their own safety from the preponderance of automobiles clogging and hogging our streets.

Vennochi almost makes the connection that for every rider there is one less person in a car or truck clogging the streets, but alas she failed. She also failed to realize that parking isn’t what local businesses need in order to thrive, but better friendlier street design that provides safe access for everyone especially pedestrians and cyclists. There is a growing mass of evidence of the economic benefits of complete street design and there are examples where conservative elected officials recognize it and they’ve begun to adopt complete streets as part of their agenda.

Besides if today’s conservatives truly lived up to the meaning of that word, they’d be all for saving money, time and resources for little cost to the government. After all most riders motivation isn’t politics, but saving time and money while getting free exercise. It certainly isn’t to irritate “driver seat” liberals like Joan Vennochi.

Neighborhood groups impediment to expanding bike infrastructure

December 6th, 2013 by dotriderblog

We attended the community meeting on Seaver Street to finalize the plans for traffic calming and installing bike infrastructure. Apparently it was a reboot of an effort that was torpedoed by a few vocal local community members representing various local community groups. The word out of that meeting was that cycle tracks were doomed.

The DPW and Boston Bikes did a little more homework and political background work between meetings in hopes of turning things around. They met with the local nay sayers and developed an alternate plan that answered the immediate concerns. Then they quietly lobbied to get a good cadre of local bicycle supporters to attend. Mission accomplished.

The biggest fear was a misplaced one that believed a cycle track and parking outside of that put the parker at risk far beyond anyone else. That issue alone proved to be a stumbling block for the most resistant and vocal attendee at this meeting. We love the man’s sincerity, but we hope that he can open his eyes to the big picture.

The rest of the local biking community showed up and did an awesome job of arguing for bicycle infrastructure. Some very good grass roots folks from the Y’s Roxbury Bike showed and made compelling arguments for the double track (Option 2) plan the City obviously preferred. I nearly took my hand down as both the big and small pictures were well presented and argued.

The most inspiring testimonies however were from two young men who had obvious connections to Bikes Not Bombs. Wow! Boston is going to be a great city with fine young men like the two that stood up and gave compelling intelligent and soulful reasons why Seaver Street should have cycle tracks. Wow! (Did I already say that?)

Meanwhile Boston Bikes and DPW weathered the noise of one of the most cantankerous meeting participants I’ve ever encountered. YIKES! I would have been physically afraid for my own safety had I been in Nicole Friedman’s shoes. What a contrast when the guy basically pushed her aside (6 foot + 220 lbs+ of angry man versus 5 ft? Nicole?) and took over at one point.

Boston Bikes stood their ground though, kept things civil and the crowd did the rest. Anyone who hadn’t decided before they got there obviously came down for Option 2 in the end as only a few hands went up when Option 1 was offered as a choice, while a preponderence of hands soared in proud defiance when Option 2 was offered.

So now one victory in the neighborhood. Perhaps the T and DPW should take the lesson learned here and apply it to a reboot of the cold nasty response the city got from the Mattapan Community about making a Silver Line like stretch up Blue Hill Avenue.

Certainly they can take what they learned home in preparation for more encounters with rabid community folks. We already hear the auto-centric resentment toward bicycles and accomodating them in the neighborhoods. While I love my neighbors who show up at constant meetings and volunteer their time and toil to making their neighborhood a better place, I’m tired of those folks sometimes feeling so entitled that they actually block progress.

But neighbohood backers of bicycle infrastructure be warned. That we need to show up at these meetings and be cool calm and positive.

I got up and spoke of the economic benefits of cycling. I also contrasted the Seaver Street proposal to the crap Dot Ave got out of state planners when instead of increased bike capacity we got more turn lanes at the major intersection.

Given the tension in the room I didn’t ask my Dot-centric quetions. The first being, what about the part of Seaver Street on the Dot-side of Blue Hill Avenue down to Erie? Lanes? Continue the love? The other? How about making it a lane not a sharrow again from Columbia Road to Seaver. It was installed as a lane, but made into a sharrow later. With a cycle track that turns into a real weak point as a sharrow.

Interesting take… Dotbike update

October 28th, 2013 by dotriderblog

Hey! I’m a pretty loud fellow when I’m travelling. Driving in a car I am often yelling at cars and different folks even though they can’t hear me. I’m the same way while riding my bicycle to the point where my partner Maggie hates it when I start spouting at mindless drivers. Well, I’m posting a link to a blog I saw that would suggest my yelling is a good idea.

http://www.thewashcycle.com/2013/10/when-people-stop-being-nice-and-start-being-real.html

Meanwhile the Dotbike internal count revealed a few things and Boston Bikes listened! They were interested in our data and although they’re not about to budge from their down town first approach they made a sincere pitch that the neighborhoods are on their radar. Faint blips, but we’re there…

What we found was that we’re slack compared to the rest of the city in terms of wearing helmets, riding correctly and including women.

Fully half the folks counted did not have helmets on. To me that’s a huge improvement though from the 70% helmetless stat we came up with through analyzing our Dotbike flickr site photos.

Almost as many folks who ride helmetless are what we term ‘Sidewalkers.’ In other words, they ride on the side walk or into the traffic on the wrong side of the road. This is a serious issue that we need to address in order to make our local riders safer.

The lack of women riders was particularly evident in areas we counted where there was little or no accomodation for bikes. The one spot we chose that incorporated two major commuter pathways into town had the highest percentage of women. The spot we chose which crassly might be termed as being in the core of the ‘hood’ revealed few if any women riding.

Some day soon we’ll take our own in depth look, but the above really covers it.

Now folks. Start yelling at those cars! After all they might have killed you. Pedal on!

Dotbike forced to go rogue

September 30th, 2013 by dotriderblog

The first neighborhood grass roots bicycle advocacy group was Dotbike. JP and Rossie bikes were right there, but overall Dot can lay claim to the first organizational efforts. When we first started, two regular Dotbikers were on the Boston Bikes committee. I’m not sure of their status today, but from this vantage point Dotbike has given up trying to directly influence the direction of Boston Bikes since obviously whatever we say has been outright ignored.

Of course dotrider blog has been known to be a moaner, but guess what it’s well deserved folks. Here’s the latest.

Boston Bikes has organized a bike count to go on over these two weeks. When we went to the site to look we saw only three sites anywhere near Dorchester. One on the northern reach of Dot Ave. Another at Blue Hill Ave and Glenway (by Franklin Park) and a third on the Harbor Trail down near Milton. So, to the average person that might look great as we have three major access points to Dot covered right?

The only problem is that most of the folks who ride bicycles here dont’ eveer LEAVE town. If you ride at all around Dorchester you’ll be struck by the number of riders without helmets riding into traffic or on the sidewalk in old under maintained bikes that usually need some air in their tires. That’s an over generalization, but I think you get the point.

There is a significant portion of Dorchester’s riding population that doesn’t use the major roadways and only travels within the confines of Dorchester.

Two Dotbikers e-mailed the Boston Bikes person involved. It took a second e-mail prompt from one of them to get a breathless apology without addressing the main question at hand. My first response to the e-mail where the person managing the bike count said they hadn’t been looking at their e-mail much was, “Huh????? if you’re managing a bike count wouldn’t most of the communication be carried out via e-mail? Why would someone not be checking their e-mail if that was their job?”

Meanwhile Dotbike has organized our own internal neighborhood bike counts at three internal Dorchester locations. The Dot Ave location is far enough south that it can get the folks headed over to Mass Ave (another site not used that is a stream of riders heading into town each day if you’re looking for only commuters btw…

Only today now that we’ve planned our entire bike count have we heard from anyone related to that and it’s not even clear if they’re interested in our data.

Certainly Dot is different than the rest of the city. Dotriderblog posted hundreds of pictures up until last year of folks riding bicycles in Dorchester. We analysed the results given our data was random enough and we thought we had good data. Well if you look a few years back on this blog you’ll see all that data analyzed. We had 70% of riders NOT wearing helmets. The minority and poor rider numbers are in there as well. Over the past year I can say we haven’t seen enough folks riding into or through town to significantly alter that number. In fact when Dotrider did a bike count at Blue Hill Avenue last week easily 40% of the riders were on the sidewalk and 60-70% of those riding failed to have a helmet. So even Boston Bikes Dot data will show things haven’t changed… Of course with may be 60 folks counted in 2 hours we’ll be under represented.

Why? After I finished the count I rode the 2 miles via backroads from Blue Hill to Codman Square. In that short ride I counted 25 bikes, while in the last hour at Blue Hill I saw just 18… Sort of prima facia evidence that our conclusions will be justified by our data. Keep an eye out here for that.

But the real question is why? Why does Boston Bikes just treat Dorchester like it doesn’t exist? I’m prone to believe Boston Bikes spent more TIME getting Hubway organized in Cambridge and Somerville than it ever has in Dorchester.

Ignore us at your peril. We’ve gone quiet because we got tired of wasting our breath. We saw something worthwhile and suddenly there were about 10 of us volunteering. Give us support and listen to us and we’d be one of the best community bike groups ever. The folks I see on Dotbike are long time residents, community activists and bike riders. Some of us have been riding these streets since the 1970s and even without any improvements we’ll still be riding them in the 2020s and beyond.

Work with us Boston Bikes. Please stop ignoring us.

Dotrider’s Mayoral pick

August 27th, 2013 by dotriderblog

As we head into the final stretch of the first open Boston Mayoral election in many of our memories, it’s time for dotrider to make a selection and post it here. Of course we’ll have fun trying to remember who all 12 are and give some up/down on them too… There are 12 candidates and 6 of them would easily satisfy me, although I’d obviously be happier with some than others.

First, I have a bias against anyone who has been in the same elected position for more than 10 years. We voted for term limits and the Massachusetts House of Representatives set aside the overwhelming plebicite thanks to discraced Speaker of the House Tom Finneran. Sadly most elected folks didn’t seem to get the message. That eliminates any of the elected officials running today then, although I write later about their good things as I do like many of them and if they make the final one of them would be sure to get my vote.

However it’s too easy to be an incumbant, particularly in Boston. You don’t have to do much, just glad hand the right folks and treat the employees well. Given that fully half the folks who vote work for, or are related to someone who works for the City of Boston the status quo is something most voters like to maintain. So I instantly discount anyone who has a sign up at the home of the long-time City employees I know. The same with City Council candidates. Anyone backed by the Fire Fighters Union is off my list too.

Given the above, there are three finalists in the plus side and sadly these three together would be in the lead but apart they are probably drawing from each other’s base. We’ll see.

Finalist #1 is Charlotte Golar Richie. I know her personally and I hold her in high regard. She doesn’t stay in a spot too long, but she’s competent and inteligent. I was a little irritated by her idling car when I stopped and said congratulations to her when I saw her in front of a polling station trying to collect signatures. She does have a bit of status quo working for her in the Mayor’s insider, but I’ll give her a pass on that. She hasn’t taken many controversial positions, but I would expect her to hear things out and take a long view. She’d be a great choice.

Finalist #2 is John Barros. I had very little idea who this guy was, but the more I see he’s the real deal. I don’t know enough about his positions as I won’t vote for him, but he would be a great choice. He just isn’t mine, although I believe he merits mention here.

Finalist #3 is Bill Walczak. Bill’s really my #1 choice and he’ll get my vote as of this moment. First he rides a bike! Second he made sure there was bike parking at the Codman Square Health Center and he added significantly to it when he was at the Carney. He has advocated for parks which is another favorite issue of mine.

When I first moved to Dorchester from the West Fenway I couldn’t help but notice the boarded up buildings and general abandonment of Codman Square. Bill was already there fighting the good fight. I met him at the reception desk in the Great Hall running the show. Today, Codman Square has few if any empty store fronts. The NDC there has been great and done a fine job. The Health Center keeps growing. The weakness there is that these institutions have set off some resentment related to institutional creep, but overall the results are better than the alternative. I feel for small business people who see higher rents and a new clientele as not being the best for their business, but hey the world changes so get in front of it. The number of great community initiatives that have eminated from the Health Center outweigh that little blind spot by far.

He’s also not afraid to take a controversial position like being against casinos. That sealed the deal with me as I’m dead set against them. They’re a scourge on any community that gets one and they’re losers. How many Chapter 11s has Donald Trump led? $23,000 for a dealer? Liveable wage? NOT. Increase in crime? Guarenteed. NO NO NO…

The bottom line on Bill is that he has worked with just about every facet of government that can help the city. He’s worked with the Feds, the State, the City, big health and insurance, construction and neighborhood advocates. He’s been a success too. He’ll listen (although some folks say he seems distracted if he’s not agreeing with them) and he has a good sense of right and wrong. Finally he raised a family in Dorchester and his adult children both live here still. That’s a good thing.

So why not Marty Walsh? (See above) Good smart fellow, but he’s frankly is too close to unions. I support unions, but we need someone who isn’t beholden to them. Also, on education he undermines the teachers union with his Charter School stance, so… I also just saw a post of his supporting those trying to save the Casey Overpass. WRONG! He’s got some good liberal views and he’s from Dorchester so he may get another look when we get toward the final.

How about John Connolly? He rides a bike now and again and has used it as a political tool. He was an early advocate of Hubway, which of course we were against. He stifled any dissent on that and didn’t insist on having a hearing. Hubway wasn’t part of any public process and NO RESIDENT was advocating for it while there were plenty of us advocating for an increase in infrastructure and educational investment for riders. He’s saying all the right stuff now, so may be he’ll be okay. He’s a smart guy, but my experience is that he’s not that great a listener. I do like that he dared to run before Menino stepped down, but anyone who had any familiarity with the complex medical situation facing Menino with diabetes and crones disease would have been able to predict the Mayor’s retirement. So smart move not a particularly daring bet though…

Dan Conley? Too close to the cops. Probably as smart as anyone and we would be okay if he won. He has some pretty smart ideas though, so probably not a total loss if he won.

Rob Consalvo? He’s actually impressed me more than I thought. We couldn’t lose. My only issue was that when we were advocating for Parks to plow the Glen Road section of Franklin Park he wouldn’t sign the petition that already had over 200 residents signatures on it, instead demuring saying he had to “check with Bernie.” Bernie Walsh who was resisting the community uprising that was demanding attention. The Bernie Walsh who still does a half-assed not everytime it snows job on Glen Road. Who does Rob work for? The voters or the employees?

Mike Ross? Smart guy but too Downtown for this neighborhood activist.

Felix Arroyo? His dad was the first politician along with Bill Clinton who I voted for who ever won, so that should bode well no? He’s a nice guy, but I’m not sure if he’d be up to running the city. I think he’d get run by the bureaucracy frankly. I like his position on schools though and he might pull it out who knows?

Charles Yancey should quit both campaigns. I love Charles but he’s been there toooooooooooooooooooooo (an o for each year in fact) long… PERIOD.

The former cop Charles Clemmons seems like a smart dude but not my style.

The radio dude, David James Wyatt seems like he’s given up…

So vote for Bill Walczak on September 24th folks! Ride your bikes to the polls and remember who would have as well.

Pedal on!

One rider’s road logic

July 22nd, 2013 by dotriderblog

Led by the Boston Health Commissions unhealthy over focus on helmet wear there appear to be plenty of non-riders making pronouncements related to the relative safey of boston bike riders. We’ve always maintained what one sees of a bike rider is easily found by car drivers and pedestrians. Boston has a scofflaw culture on the roads, led by our fine police forces that drive (and ride their bikes) with no regard to any traffic restrictions. Anyway, just to make me feel better wrt my scofflawedness, this piece will outline my overall riding logic and how I try to keep safe on Boston’s roads.

I’ve relented in the helmet ‘war’ and I’ve even purchased a new helmet. The statistics surrounding those who get killed riding are too compelling not to wear one in the city. It took me a while, but I like my helmet and it’s been customized so I can wear a hat or not. It has a political message or two on it as well, “I BIKE DOT” “I Voted” being two, so that makes me feel better about succombing to the helmet frenzy. That said, I’ll never wear one skiing since the last 5 folks I’ve seen who died in New England skiing were wearing helmets…

Red Lights: Know your red lights and act accordingly. My main ride between Dot and JP has seen a large number of new lights and Stop Signs. At one count there were 10 more Stop signs and 5 lights added over the last 13 years… There are a few of the new ones I never stop at since they are frivoulous and one-sided so there’s no one coming in on the right side of the road. I do wait to make sure folks coming out the side street see me or get through first if they have the light. A few of those I’ll stop at but if I get a chance to go before it changes I will just to get ahead of the cram of cars as well as to avoid the turning vehicles. Sorry it just makes sense to me. There are also a great number of lights I would NEVER run. I also am very careful since I inevitably see some motor vehicle run these lights. Four Corners (why isn’t it called 5 Corners?), Washington & Park, Columbia & Washington, and Columbia and Blue Hill are the big four on the way. The new light at Welles is iffy as is the one at Melville. On the way home I rarely run the one at Forest Hills Ave into Franklin Park (never during rush hour). Blue Hill and Talbot I only run if it’s all Walk lights. Codman Square has just changed the light sequence so it is nearly impossible for me to get through without stopping so I run the first one if I can just to pay back all the folks on Norfolk who NEVER stop at their light and pour onto Talbot. They got the light in their favor now and why I don’t know. Talbot and Dot has a sequence that has several options wrt running or not. Riding in downtown Boston has a few lights that I do run at times. The most obvious are the turn lights on Mass Ave. Once there’s no one turning I’ll go straight.

Passing vehicles: I never pass a bus or large truck if they’re moving. PERIOD. Never. I’ll get in front of them and make it impossible for them to pass or I’ll take a lane behind them, but I refuse to pass especially anywhere near a stop or intersection. TOO DANGEROUS. Otherwise I prefer to pass only when a vehicle is stopped in general too. I do pass cars now and again though compared to larger vehicles.

Taking my lane: I often take a lane in an intersection to make sure a vehicle won’t pass me in the intersection. I also signal with my hands very clearly so folks know my intentions. I’ll take a lane behind a vehicle too. At times I’ll take a lane in a long flow of traffic if the sides are too narrow.

Related to taking a lane is riding on the inside line of any bike lanes. I avoid the door zone as much as possible and that also guides some decisions related to taking a lane. If there’s a store and cars that may have people, I’m as far as I can from those cars. The odds of getting hit from a car from behind rather than a door in front are so much LESS it only makes sense. If there’s a line of traffic and I have to ride in the door zone I’m usually going pretty slow. After all, it’s not how fast one goes riding a bike but it’s how little you go zero that makes it faster than driving. I can’t compete with any car for speed, so I don’t try.

Bromides: I’m a pretty noisy fellow and that carries over to my bike riding. I have loud bells and I often yell at cars, people or other riders. Here’s a few of my most usual. “It’s called a side WALK, not a side Ride!” “Ride WITH the traffic it’s safer!” or “Wrong way!” to those Salmon-like riders of which Dorchester’s riders make up a solid majority. To drivers, my favorite is “That was RED!” when I nose out into a newly green light to see someone flying through the changed light. “Hang up and drive!” is another plaint I use now and again.

So that’s about it. I rarely ride the wrong way up a One Way, although there’s a couple I’ve ridden wrong for 20+ years so I’ll never stop. I rarely ride on a side walk until I’m near my destination and cruising for a spot.

Otherwise, the more you know your ride and surroundings the more you can carve out what feels safe for you during your ride. Always defer to cars since they’re much bigger than you. Most of us ride the same roads daily, so if you learn your route and how to be safe on that it covers a lot. When riding a new route err on being conservative and that will stand you well in the safety department.

I don’t think anyone who runs a Stop or a light is doing it because they want to risk their life. They prefer to be faster and ahead of the car traffic. The statistic that says this most to me is the fact that only 3% of all accidents are from cars or trucks coming from behind you, while almost all the rest of the accidents are from you coming onto something or being hit head on or by someone coming out at you. Since you’re out on the road outside you see WAY MORE than anyone in a car and drivers who criticize riders should realize that.

Globe prints piece on Equity of bike services

June 10th, 2013 by dotriderblog

Here’s the link to dotriderblog’s letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe in response to their article reviewing how riders in the neighborhood are faring in today’s hyper-bike promoting environment. One suspects the editors at the Globe agree with this view.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/letters/2013/06/08/minority-neighborhoods-get-short-end-city-efforts-for-bike-service/ivEDdRnooOvzvmrH6L8NUK/story.html

Pedal on!

Small wonder I’m a grump. What is equity anyway?

May 22nd, 2013 by dotriderblog

Last night I challenged all the happy back slapping at the Boston Bikes update, especially related to their efforts to bring equity to their program. I also made some pretty sarcastic Tweets in response to the glowing ones that were coming out of the event. I couldn’t even stay and I just had to get out of there the entire exercise was so disappointing in what it showed to me.

Why am I such a grump? Believe it or not I come from a really positive background. I’m a life time community activist as a result of that and my upbringing. My mother always wore a smile on her face and always looked for the silver lining. I do in many ways, but when it comes to receiving City services in Dorchester I’ve become a full out grump. Why? Because no matter what the issue or service, we typically end up with broken promises and half assed execution. Sadly, Boston Bikes plans for expanding our biking infrastructure and Hubway is following along that path.

The most irritating thing about the entire exercise is the Three E’s that Nicole Freedman introduced at her first Update 5 years ago, especially the first one Equity. When that came up this year, we got informed of the Youth Bike Training Program and the Roll it Forward program. Great! Now we have kids who know how to ride safely with nowhere to ride? Besides, having attended one of the giveaways, the ‘training’ was slack and I hope others go better than what I saw. If that’s Equity, it’s a disappointment for sure and the same old same old. We also have 600 lower income folks with Hubway cards who can only use them when they’re down town and not near their homes out in the neighborhoods. Where’s the equity in that?

Here’s what EQUITY really means to me.

Equal access and delivery of services, like a more aggressive approach to expanding Hubway in ALL of Dorchester. Just because grand standing life time City Councilor Charles Yancey held things up trying to senselessly get one put in on the outskirts of town, doesn’t mean we all think that way. But given there are two/three in Dorchester, South Bay, JFK station and UMass it’s easy to see some quick nearby choices to expand into Dot. Try Savin Hill Station? The new Purple Line Stations in Dudley and Geneva Ave. Franklin Park? All of them are contiguous to recently installed bike infrastructure and they are handy to Roxbury and JP stations that many Dot folks are familiar with through driving or taking the bus. Then do a similar layer, Fields Corner, Codman Square, Talbot Ave Purple Line, Franklin Field…

Equal access to aggressive planning. What ever happened to finishing lanes on Mass Ave to where it begins in Everett Square in Dorchester? I should have brought that up, but was so riled up it escaped. That is ripe for a cycle track in fact. Instead we got new turn lanes by the new train station there. And just an aside, who’s going to pay $6 to take a slow train into South Station? Is that equitable? I guess it’s better than when they closed them 40 years ago… We also got sharrows on streets that are WIDE enough to accomodate bike lanes on Dot Ave and Neponset Ave which is a confusing mish mash of sharrows and lanes switching in and out going in both directions. Love the sharrows on Morton Street where you NEVER see anyone riding on what is a major automobile access road across town. There’s more too, but you get the point.

Just to review: Dorchester 20% of the area of the City of Boston, 120,000 residents or about 20% of the City of Boston. Guess what 20% of the City of Boston isn’t poor. We have a hospital, some of the leading health centers,  25% of the city’s schools, a major college, a river, a major highway, and waterfront a Presidential Library. We house the most diverse population in the city in terms of ethnic and racial make up as well as financial well being. It’s where the future of America lives.

There’s so much to say I’m sorry about how unorganized this has been. To cut them some slack, Boston Bikes is just like the DPW, Boston Park Department, the state DCR and Transportation Department, the T and anyone else who provides services to our part of town. I have to add to that a community that I would bet would deliver one of the top selling Trader Joe’s or Wholefood stores in the country (ALL the original stores in South Bay mall held that distinction btw) and instead we get a Harvard School of Government initiative to market used expiring food and you can see it extends to businesses too.  Whatever we get is given reluctantly and done half assed and then we get yelled at for not being grateful.  I’m still positive minded enough that I’m still trying, unlike many of my other cynical neighbors who think it’s a waste of time to even bother. That’s why you don’t see more of us out there advocating, why bother they’ll just screw it up? Small wonder I’m a grump.