From the Hartford Advocate, 05.28.08:
Car-Free In HartfordInspiring article from Hartford, motivated by the writer's need to deal with a temporary loss of vehicular access. He ends up discovering a rich bicycling culture in Connecticut's capitol, a city not renowned for bicycle-friendliness.
There are alternatives to hitting the highway
On a chilly Monday morning, I rode my bike to work for the first time. To put my first pedal commute into perspective, you need to understand that I'm a walking collection of His Girl Friday-era reporter cliches, minus the "press badge" and snappy hat. I'm a chain-smoking, hard-drinking louse with a penchant for red meat and an aversion to exercise. A simple four-mile pedal to work was a frightening prospect.
Near the Sisson Avenue I-84 on-ramp, I saw my first fellow cyclist. He wore a dress shirt and rode with both hands off the handles, smoking a cigarette. His image of cool collectedness was a slap in my overheated face.
The ride was physically taxing, but bearable, until I got to Capitol Avenue. The street lining the Capitol and legislative building is a long slope, something that had escaped my attention the thousands of times I had driven on it. Also, it was the most heavily trafficked road I encountered. From the looks of it, honking at a clearly exhausted cyclist is a fun, group activity that brings drivers closer together.
The people I spoke with about bikes in the Hartford area assured me that riding would get easier (it did, actually — by my third ride I was able to make it to my apartment without collapsing in a heap). For most bike riders, though, the most challenging parts of replacing their cars with the bikes isn't the physical exhaustion: it's dealing with the people who still drive their cars. (Read more.)
The article reports rising attendance at monthly cycling events and the annual Bike To Work day. He shares road war stories with other cyclists at a Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance pizza dinner. He meets the creators of a local bicycle blog (beatbikeblog.blogspot.com), who indicate persistent pervasive hostility from motorists. He finds evidence of supportive city policymakers and promising developments for more bike infrastructure.
On a personal note: I also identified with the writer's confessed bad habits (smoking, drinking, red meat, sedentary.) As described on my Bike Commute Tips site, I shared that profile when I started bicycle commuting (except for the meat consumption.) My health improved thanks to my transportation mode. It could only improve.
Image: Hartford Advocate.
Visit: Advocate Grabs Commuting-By-Bike Argument By Handlebars, Hartford Courant
Visit: Connecticut: Not A Bike-Friendly State, Bike Commute Tips Blog.
Visit: Not just for cars anymore, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Cyclists Share a Healthy Passion, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site