Archive for January, 2012

Hanging at the bike store

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Thanks to the warm and relatively snow-free weather, winter riding has grown in leaps and bounds this year in Dorchester as well as all over Boston. Dotriderblog hasn’t missed a day in January riding to work. It took until the end of February to log 200 miles and at this writing 200 will be surpassed before the end of the day. Not a day goes by when I don’t see plenty of other riders out and about finding their way, no matter the conditions.

I haven’t always been a winter rider, but this is now the 5th year running that I’ve ridden to work at least once a week every week. With the right clothing plus making an old Dahon picked up at a local yard sale the foul weather bike (can ride the T if it is totally yucky), we’re committed to the point where it won’t just be a day each week streak. The ‘every day except when we drive for work or leave town from work on Friday’ streak is approaching a year and after last January we’d expect a few streaks ended and began again then.

Adding to the fun of being a winter rider has been the semi-regular stop off at Ashmont Cycles on the way home. I had long imagined being the one and only visitor but it seems to have developed into a neighborhood haunt for regular riders as well as curious ones. I’ve only been in there once this month when there wasn’t at least one other person in there doing business or just hanging out.  Often there’s a crowd. The community building that is going on there is awesome to see and to be a part of each day.

Ashmont Cycles owner Jack Peletier doesn’t seem to have to fall back on his previous career choice as much as he thought he might this winter. It’s great to see another person making money by thinking the best of Dorchester consumers. No one I know has gone broke by overestimating the buying power and consumer demands in Dorchester.

Along that line over 600 folks showed up at the first Winter Farmer’s Market in January. The next few weeks has seen at least 300 folks still showing up. While there were some moans about the prices, anyone who goes far and wide for produce knows the prices are fine. While the effort is part of a community effort to set up a food coop, the wave of folks is a signal to high end food retailers that they’re missing a huge market by not setting up here. But hey, they’re corporate and much smarter than anyone daft enough to try in Dorchester…NOT!

So if you’re out riding in Dorchester folks, do stop in and say howdy to Jack and the rest of us hanging at Ashmont Cycles. There you’ll find the diverse range of folks who make up the Chile Pot (a more accurate term than melting pot?) that makes up Dorchester and those of us out riding every day. He’s got a lot more inventory in there and you’ll have a chance to perhaps influence what else will grace the ever-reorganizing and expanding store.

One final comment: THANK YOU PARKS FOR PLOWING GLEN ROAD IN FRANKLIN PARK!!! After blowing it off the first ‘storm,’ they got it on the second one. We’re hoping that will be the norm from here on out forever! Fingers crossed.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The first work day of the New Year and it’s a fine day for riding to work. We didn’t see our usual compliment of riders but we were early. The dog walkers were out in the park and they all had leashes on their dogs! Great start to a New Year.

Just a quick comment here about dogs. Toni Pollack the Commissioner of Parks said at a recent meeting that dogs are the number one source of complaints and the biggest source of strife for her and her staff. Hey dog owners, did you hear that???? You as a group are hated and despised by Parks because you’re a pain when you let your dog run without a leash or you don’t pick up after your dog. It sounds like how bike riders are perceived by many automobile drivers… I’m sure most dog owners aren’t like that right? 😉

So we see the State of the City’s Bike Program has been set for early February. We’ll have to work on our tongue bighting as the city has made a lot of progress in the past year. Ideal no, but progress non-the-less. The most exciting was the fact there has been a consulting group hired and the process of drafting a bike plan for the entire city has begun. Three years late, but it has begun. That will help advocates as well as city and state planners going forward to insure a complete streets approach is taken when doing road work in Boston.

We’re hoping the City steps up it’s public relations to support bicycling and to begin educating ALL of the public of the benefits of bicycling to those who do and those who don’t ride. The health benefits of course for riders as well as the savings, financial and environmentally no matter how incremental all count. Educating automobile drivers is paramount right now for sure to help increase safety and to diffuse the growing animosity between riders and drivers.

We’re also hopeful that Hubway would expand to more Boston neighborhoods. If a neighborhood is urban enough for ZipCar what’s up with no Hubway?

‘I bike to work!’ is feeling a bit bored looking at the bike scene and we’re hopeful those working full time advocating for complete streets and better biking will continue their fine work while remembering the working folks of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury as well as anywhere around town really who don’t have the time or inclination to speak up. Folks who ride not out of choice, but because it is all they can afford. Making them feel better about riding as well as helping them to ride safe and as they should instead of sidewalking or riding into traffic like we see daily in Dorchester. That would help all riders and it might make these riders life time riders instead of folks likely to opt out and use a car the second they think they can afford one.

Going forward, idling and Franklin Park are two issues where more time and energy may be going during 2012.

Idlers are of a similar ilk to drivers who yell at bikes to get off the road, clueless. How to get through to these folks is a big question. Anyone have any ideas? Maggie doesn’t think me yelling at them or leaving single brochures on their doors is effective. But that’s all I have right now. So far the Globe hasn’t run any letters commenting on the potential upsdie of educating all of us on the obvious waste of money and harm to the environment idling is in our economy. We’ll keep trying though.

Meanwhile, Franklin Park is 25% of the City of Boston’s parkland and it is generally used as a storage yard and dumping ground for the other 75%. When locals ask for more services they get lip service from Parks saying their budget is strained. Meanwhile anyone with two eyes can see the budget may be strained but it is obvious Franklin Park isn’t getting its share of the budget outside of the golf course which takes in a few bucks for the City. Does this sound like a familiar story? Yup! Of course we’d love to slip a disc golf course in there as well, so we’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile Peddle on!