Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A challenge: Bike to work with me

I broke up with my bike a while back, but we are thinking about getting back together.

It’s a basic Trek mountain bike that I bought new for $250 when I was in grad school at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 2003. When the bike was stolen over Christmas break that year, I bought the same bike at the same store and took it back home. 

There is a long, winding bike path that runs along Boulder Creek from the east end of the city all the way west and into Boulder Canyon, the gateway to amazing wilderness and snow-capped mountains. 

The city and its drivers are very bike-friendly. A lot of the streets have designated bike paths and drivers are pretty courteous about sharing the road with their non-motorized friends. My bike got me to class, the grocery store, my newspaper internship and the hiking trails of beautiful Chautauqua Park.

And my bike travels.

I’ve lugged it to Moab, Utah, for ungraceful attempts of beginner slick-rock trails. I’ve ridden it on the beach in Florida, to vineyards in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, along the coast of Maine.

And I still have that bike. It’s right here in New Haven, sitting in the back of my garage covered in spider webs and collecting dust. 

Shame on me.

I admit it. I’m scared of riding in traffic. It seems like there are a good number of people in New Haven who drive like maniacs, think bikes belong on sidewalks and are not of the “share the road” mindset.

But that is changing.

Thanks to the strong cycling advocacy community in New Haven, which has been working with the city to promote safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians alike, things are looking up. One of the catalysts for change is Elm City Cycling, a nonprofit bike advocacy organization with 400-plus members in and around New Haven. The city itself through its Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking is supporting the cause with its Street Smarts campaign and initiatives like the new Smart Cycling handbook.

Elm City Cycling is partnering with the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop to put on the monthly “Bike to Work Breakfast” starting at 7:30 p.m. every third Friday of the month at Pitkin Plaza, on Orange Street between Chapel and Court. The idea is to bike to work, meet some cool people, have good conversation and enjoy coffee and baked goods from Bru Café.

So I am calling on fellow bike-to-work newbies to join me this Friday in greasing up our bikes, strapping on our helmets and heading to Pitkin Plaza. Then, if you’d be so kind, I’d love to chat about our experiences biking to work and write about it in a future blog!

So join me!! If you're in, comment on this blog, email me at abbegsmith@gmail.com or tweet me @abbegsmith.

For tips on getting safely to work, check out Elm City Cycling’s “New Riders and Safety” link.


  1. My bike was stolen this winter and I was given a trek mountain bike as a hand-me-down which I took to the bike shop this weekend for a tune up. So I can totally relate as I too am getting back into the amateur biking world. If you don't live on the lake in Chicago then you have no choice but to bike on busy streets. It's a little scary but wear a helmet and remember that the last thing anyone wants to do is hit a person with their car- you kinda just have to trust people to avoid you. If you stay out of their way, they'll stay out of yours. Love this blog.

  2. Cheers, Abbe. So glad to see you here and I look forward to meeting you in person, having our paths cross out there on bikes on the streets of New Haven. We're a bike commuting family of five and we keep a family biking blog about our adventures cycling in New Haven. Happy Riding!

  3. Sara - Love your blog and love that it shows you can get around on bikes, even with three little boys! I am easing into the bike thing, but excited about trips to come. Thanks for sharing!
    Em - Why do people steal bikes, that is so lame! We should launch our amateur bike careers by biking across Europe. You can be the guide;)

  4. Seems that you are enjoying full fledged natural exposure of Sun.