Month: May 2011

Mia was here!

When I began this journey in January, one of the first books I found was Mia Birk’s book, Joyride, Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet. I loved it and took the advice to heart. So I felt it was really a matter of fate when I read that she was coming to speak at Union College as part of their Minerva series.

I marked my calendar months in advance, because this was something I was not going to miss. I sat with 100 + people and heard her talk this past Wednesday. Because I had read the book, I knew her story. The focus of her talk was not to reiterate her book, it was to talk about keys to success in the work of encouraging bicycling as a form of transportation a the local community. She was an excellent speaker and for the area in which I live I took away these points.

This will depend of a ground- up movement. I do not see political leadership in our area around this issue, which is really too bad. Lack of political leadership means less opportunities for funding and staffing which is important to really move this work forward.

We need more advocacy programs. Schenectady has almost nothing. Albany and Troy seems to be doing things with groups like the Albany Bicycle Coalition and Troy Bike Rescue, just to name two. Schenectady has people who ride. It has put money into and received grants for making areas more bikeable, and streets as “multiuse,” but we need to get to the “how” part. I think people generally get that biking is a good idea. We need to let them know how to do it. Mia called these “intensive encouragement programs.”

Loved this idea: Send out a survey asking if people are interested in biking opportunities locally. If they respond, you have a tote that you drop off at their house by bike that includes in it: a family -friendly bike map, leg bands, coupons for helmets and lights, a patch kit… I am thinking this would be great to try out through our town and maybe grow it from there.

I really, really wish we had a local bike shop that catered to commuter biking, a bike rescue organization and  a “Schenectady Bikes” advocacy group or Schenectady Bicycling Coalition. I occasionally fantasize about starting a website and getting bike shops and bike groups to post and maybe building momentum that way.

We need to create a plan and get community buy- in. We  have possible local funding  with a grant program called “Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program.” So high on my to-do list is to follow-up with my contact in the county to propose this. Keeping track of numbers, counting, seems really, really important too.

After Mia Birk’s talk I spoke briefly with her and had her sign my book. I had planned to ask if I could get a photo with her to put in the blog, but at the time I became more focused on who I talk with in our community to keep these ideas moving forward. She pointed out two people across the room and at that moment it seemed more important to go have a conversation there and any notion of pictures fell out of my mind.

So the picture is Nott Memorial, a very beautiful building on Union college where Mia Birk spoke. Along with her excellent ideas I also took away this: any change requires a lot of work, a lot of attention to details and a “thick skin.” There will be push back. There will be resistance, that just comes with the territory.

Just Dreaming

I am so excited after our town’s Safe Routes committee meeting tonight! We had a new town resident come who works for a company on mapping and open source software. He had some of the same suggestions that I had been thinking/dreaming about for using open source technology to communicate with the group and get maps created and out..EXCEPT.. he knows how to do it! AND the company he works for was started by Mark Gorton, someone I have read about and who has been hugely influential in NYC’s move towards more complete streets.

I also biked to the meeting, which people always make a big deal about. But if I bike no where else, I need to at least do this. One other member biked and his trip was much more impressive because it’s farther, while mine was relatively short. Seriously, by bike it’s just under 1 mile. Like many of our daily trips. Biking does not have to be a big deal; it can be easy and feel good.

So my other dream, is a commuter bike. Something that comes with fenders, a chain guard, generator lights. (I just road home from my meeting tonight with an not bright enough for me head light) Something I can bike to work in wearing a skirt. After doing mostly online research, my dream, which is potentially in reach because it’s under $1000 is this…

It’s a Breezer Uptown 7. The closest store that sells them is 73 miles away, but I am thinking about driving there to test ride one anyway.

I have been checking local bikes shops and am looking at a Trek 7300 WSD or a Specialized Ariel. But both would need lots of stuff added and bring their total cost up to the Breezer. Breezers seem to have a really good reputation. And, I know I need to try them out anyway and see which one really feels like it fits.

New Day

This weekend I learned how to change the inner tube on my bike! This was so small and so big. I am lucky because my hubby took the time to show me once I got everything set up.

Then I cleaned my bike and oiled the chain.Way, way easier than I thought.

Since I think I’m pretty average here, I realized what might happen if our town offered easy to get to classes to teach other simple, basic bike maintenance. Hmmmmm

My beginning inspiration was the video link I posted above called “short video on beginning bike maintenance.” It will stay there until I figure out how to put it in as a link on the side bar. I take my time learning this stuff, there’s always so much to do. Sort of like how I am taking my time learning how to get around on my bike and maintain it as well…