Archive for May, 2010

flickr site growing fast…

Friday, May 28th, 2010

A dotrider has been posting photos of riders and bike parking situations for the past 14 months. There are now about 400 photos. It took nearly a year to get the first 300 and barely 6 weeks to get the next 100…Hmmmm Hey guess what that means? There are more folks riding in Dorchester EVERY DAY! Last year the effort began as a way to show that ALL kinds of folks ride in Dorchester (not just hipsters and nerdy white guys) of all races, colors, sexes, ages and income levels. We’ve been discussing whether to continue the practice or to let flickr die having prooved its point (although it feels as though it has been soundly ignored by the folks it was designed to show the truth…after attending meetings concluding why some minorities don’t ride we believe we’ve soundly smashed those stereotypes). Of course then we see the dotbike blog pick off a photo celebrating legal riding in Franklin Park, a number of other fb posts and promotions around town with a dotbike flickr photo. Hey folks using these photos, great job! Thanks for the support! If you are looking for other themes, let us know and we’ll see what we can do. Parking and access is becoming an increasing focus. We continue to monitor helmet use. We’re thinking of breaking down the photos to those riding properly versus those travelling unsafely. We found 71% not wearing helmets and judging from the few week’s posts that % isn’t changing. Any suggestions?

One story tells it all…

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

We outlined a few areas where Dorchester there is obvious inequity to the level of services delivered to Dorchester. Here’s my favorite story about how Dotites get lip service from the City. One of the Mayor’s prior Transportation Directors (Whatever that Tim guy is) was at a local meeting where the neighborhood group was proposing traffic calming methods for a street was was plagued by speeding cut through traffic. I suggested speed bumps (ultimately 5 years later we did get stop signs) and I received this response…”Oh we’d NEVER put a speed bump in, there aren’t ANY speed bumps in Boston.” I offered him an opportunity to correct himself to which he demurred and repeated his statement…So I asked him, “Since when has Eliot Street, Lochstead Road and Sheridan Street in Jamaica Plain secede (sp?) from the City of Boston?” Then his story got even bigger, but that wasn’t the point. What? Did the guy think I never leave Dorchester? This isn’t the first or last time I got the ‘we don’t do that here’ line only to know first hand of the exception… So don’t think that Dotbikers don’t see all the improvements elsewhere while NOTHING has happened in 2 years to improve bicycling infrastructure in Dot outside of 50 yards on Old Road…

Inequity in City Services in general

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This week’s dotriderblog theme is inequity. Ever since Dorchester became incorporated as part of the city of Boston in 1870, what had once been one of Massachusett’s richest and most influential communities has seen its influence and the resulting services from the city and state decline. Riders see this in the Missing Link section of the Boston Harbor Trail…(it’s in Dot so what). We see this whenever a road in Dot gets paved and there is NO accomodation for bicycle riders (Bowdoin Street from 4 corners to Geneva ave springs to mind among others). Bike advocates need not feel alone in our inequity. We’ll chronical other inequities in Dorchester so you might see the pattern that drives Dotites nuts. Small wonder we’re a noisy bunch!  Let’s think of a few more and you’ll see what we mean….New 40 gallon recycling bins…who got them last after ALL other areas of town and they don’t seem as nice?…. DCR Park at Neponset is still waiting for the info center and canoe/kayak dock rental facility from construction 15 years ago…MBTA refused to put any excalators in Shawmut Station, but the Silver Line Court House station has them going UP AND DOWN on BOTH SIDES plust the 9×12 foot brushed stainless steel panels… Boston Schools…bet we’ve had the most schools closed in the past two years…Libraries… We have one of the 4 on the list to close…. Big dig remediation?…Where are the sound barriers by the highway?… Dot Ave reconstruction… 15 intersections when city’s original plan called for entire Ave to be fixed… guess when THAT will happen? So, lip service and easy compromise with no strong advocacy at City Hall level for bike accomodations in Dorchester? So far, exactly as predicted by by dotriderblog two years ago when we first heard of plans for a bike share… No wonder were cynical eh? And then we get treated like we never leave Dorchester and get told it’s bad for everyone… We’ll provide some ripe examples of that in the next post… Or do you have any to add? Go for it!

Bike Friday fun!

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Wow! What a nice ride up Dorchester Avenue with about thirty fellow Dotbikers. It was pretty cool smoozing in City Hall Plaza too. I had a nice chat with the dudes from D.C. SF and Portland, OR. Wish it had been longer. Got to make my point about equity. While I’m on equity, what about Mass Ave from Albany Street to Columbia Road? That happens to be where Mass Ave ORIGINATES, yet poor old Dorchester gets swept under the rug. Of course that part of the Ave isn’t being repaved and all that happy stuff, but hey how much extra would it cost to have the paint truck run down the road another mile? There’s plenty of room and plenty of riders. One other thing, as someone new to blogging I hadn’t gotten the idea of folks comments being put into a spam folder. Hey folks, it wasn’t me! I didn’t put the ones asking me questions about my format (default) or helping me to Tweet my photos (I upload my stuff not from a camera phone but a digital camara), but hey! Thanks for the comments! Keep reading and if you’re into what dotriderblog is driving at spread the word! Feel free to use the flickr site photos if you have a use for them. Get the word out! Peace! Have a great weekend!

Bike week must be working

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Crude oil has fallen $10/bbl during bike week! Bike week must be working! It’s true that getting 2% of folks to ride would have a downward effect on energy prices. Having followed markets, it is usually small changes that alter market sentiment. Hence my illusion to Bike week dragging down energy prices. Sadly, making more riders wouldn’t have the same effect as getting everyone to cut down their car use by 2%. How would you do that? How about driving home the point that just about everyone wastes money and soils the environment by idling their car? The city of Boston has a flyer that reports idling our car for more than 10 seconds with gas at $2.00/gallon waste’s money. So at $2.85/gallon you’re wasting money after about 7 seconds, so no matter what your plans when you pull up somewhere TURN OFF YOUR CAR! Getting back to commodity markets, we also noticed that cotton has hit a 10-year high… Fine wool is up 50%. It must be all that fancy bike-wear. So what’s happening with the price of spandex? Is it stretching new limits? We think it might be…

Mea culpa….kinda sorta

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

In the spirit of Bike Week I’d like to apologize to any fellow activists who may have resembled my remarks about the nature and general background of activists. I know many of them and in painting with a broad brush I may have referred to things you do specifically when trying to build up a general picture of the biking activist community. Certainly there are many who back my views and some have quietly encouraged my rants. To you I’m grateful and I apologize if you were offended.  That’s the trouble with generalizations. That said, you must admit that the bike activist group has a unique diversity of its own unseen anywhere else. In my life time of community activism I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’m sure you get that! Plus those of you who are working quietly within the framework that is building for developing and improving the bike infrastructure, guess what? You must be succeeding! At the Mayor’s ribbon cutting of the new snazzy (thru the richest neighborhood in Boston…(cut that out)) bike lane on Commonwealth Avenue, the Mayor mentioned “all neighborhoods” “reaching children” and “improving infrastructure.” Not once have we heard about the potential bike share program (phew!). Yahoo! Keep it up! Hopefully next year we’ll be riding from City Hall to the top of Dorchester Ave for the ribbon cutting of the new bike lane! Hopefully the city will work as hard as it appeared to have on Commonwealth Ave to actually take charge and not over compromise with the auto-culturists.

Let’s celebrate!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Hey Boston. Peace Love and Waterbeds! Happy Bike Week! Let’s get out there and get all our friends, colleagues, associates and neighbors riding. Remember every new rider at one of these Bike Week events usually turns into tomorrow’s regular rider. Personally, Dotriderblog has surpassed riding 1,000 miles during 2010 barely leaving Boston city limits. Given dotriderblog’s car was free is a 1991 SAAB 900 with 207,000 miles on it and it gets barely 20 mpg in the city, that’s 100 gallon of gasoline saved. Anyone know how much green house gas that adds up to be?

Thoughts on Boston’s bike culture…

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Biking is typically a solitary practice and for many years dotriderblog felt pretty lonely during his 20-30 per annum forays into the streets of Boston. Coincidental with our conversion from occasional rider to daily urban rider there was a rapid increase in riders everywhere. As someone who worked at a recycling drop off center two years before the first Earth Day, moved into the city from the suburbs when the numbers were still going the other way, joined Zipcar when they had a fleet of green VW Bugs, we’re used to being out there on the frontier of social movements. Over the past two years dotriderblog has become involved in various grass roots efforts and attended dozens of events to help promote biking. The most interesting thing we’ve observed is the nature of the local bicycle advocate. To generalize, you better have a graduate degree, work for an educational, medical or non-profit organization live in an eclectic location and feel comfortable in funny clothes. Outside of the advanced degree, I guess I would qualify although my version of funny cloths doesn’t include spandex. While it’s good to have smart people out in front advocating, there is one thing that seems bothersome. Most of these folks seem to assume everyone out there is riding thinks just like them. Look at where the improvements to our bicycle infrastructure are focused most. Read some of the other bostonbiker blogs. Replay the testimony at the Mayor’s Bike Safety Summit. Look at Mass Bike’s posting of biker stories. Think about that some of the grass roots folks have started a biking book club. Then take a look at . Where’s the disconnect? If we’re going to promote biking as a viable transportation alternative we have to meet the folks who would benefit most. These are the folks who think getting a new bike at Target is a big deal. Wear a helmet? Why spend the money? Ride on the street? Too dangerous!  How do we take all the smarts of our advocates and apply it to helping the greater society? How about, thinking about serving those who don’t have the time, energy or resources to advocate for themselves? Once that begins to happen, dotriderblog will not feel as solitary in the bike advocate world as he does now when riding through the wilds of Franklin Park on a winter evening…

More on parking…

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

So the City has announced it wants to install 250 bike racks. That’s wierd because when you go to their site there are only 180 sites including the ones they’ve installed. We know of folks who dutifully filled out the online stuff and have yet to see their request or get any response. So what’s up with that? If you want to coopt community activists to do your work shouldn’t you at least carry off your end? Of course there may be more important things to do… Would anyone more involved than dotriderblog have any positive light to shed on this? We want to turn this blog around to be more positive. We’d be willing to pursue the six ‘on hold’ sites where the local property owner originally didn’t want a rack. Dot leads the league in ‘on hold’ racks! Perhaps a little input from residents/customers might change those views? How’s that for positive? After that our positiveness isn’t about anything positive… We are open to changing our mind. Suggestions?

Bike parking

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The data on the dotbike flickr site isn’t definitive or does it really mean much except we’re woefully short of bike racks. The city has a program and there is a request form, but the current 250 bike rack goal is pretty minimal. With 41 photos of parked bikes on the flickr site, 9 were of bikes on installed racks. Often they were in distress or over crowded and the idea is that there could be more at any of the sites. One interesting thing is that 7 of the photos had bikes taken inside. The most popular locking sites are street signs/light posts and fences which showed 9 bikes a piece. Trees were the least popular, but when they were used they were either the only alternative or the closest one. I know for myself I hate using trees compared to street sign posts or light posts. Light posts aren’t good for folks with U-locks though. Most comments I’ve heard are against the cities wimpy lollypop racks. Most like the U racks with multiple options. The singles are secured to the ground with bolts that can be undone pretty easily. The other issue is that if a business doesn’t want a rack the City doesn’t give them one. The city owns the side walk, so if there are enough requests by riders to heck with the property owner I say. What do you think about bike parking in Boston?