Announcing BABBA! A Meetup Group For Bike Bloggers in Boston

It seems as though a good portion of Boston’s bicycling community happens on the internet, with communities such as BostonBiker.org(which this blog is hosted on) and bostonfixed.us for the fixsters in the area, or as we in the technology industry like to call it, “in the cloud.”

While I’ve spent lots of time enjoying other people’s great blogs on the internet, I realized that I haven’t really enjoyed the company of many of these wonderful people in person; wouldn’t it be great to stop biking in the cloud for once and get all us bike bloggers in the same room? So, dear fellow bike bloggers, I’d like to invite all you bike bloggers in Boston to a Meetup.com group I’ve created to make this happen, appropriately named “Boston Area Bike Bloggers Association,” or “BABBA” for short.

In fact, the first meetup is happening on Thursday, February 23rd, and you’re invited! Join the group to find out details!

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Hitting the Urban Slopes: Biking Boston’s First Snow of 2012, Mountains, and Skis.

Señor Corrado leaned on the squealing radiator against the classroom window and squinted through the falling flakes. Thirty of our seventh grade eyes were also fixated out the window. Can I go outside and play in the snow now? I wondered, and when will middle school ever end?  “Primera nieve” was one of the first phrases I learned in Spanish, and ever since, it’s what comes to mind every year when it starts snowing. Last night, I happened to be bike-commuting home, so “la primera nieve” for 2012 happened to involve “una bicicleta”:

Sadly, all this snow was gone by morning. If you couldn’t tell, winter biking is one of my favorite activities. So much so that on a trip to Mohonk Reserve in New York earlier this month, I went for a ride with my family on the mountain bike trails:

And last month, swapping my SPD clips and pedals for ski boots and bindings I headed to Killington, Vermont with the BU ski club, and the warm winter’s taken its toll there too: 19 out of almost 100 trails were open, and were all covered in man-made snow:

I’ll be keeping an eye on the weather, stay tuned for ski video down the Beacon St. hill in Brookline!

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Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger Bag Explained With Circles and Arrows: For Sale!

A friend of mine is selling her lightly used Timbuk2 Commute 2.0 Messenger bag because its “large” size is simply “too large” for her purposes. I think she does a better job showcasing its features in these photos than Timbuk2’s own website does:

Update: This bag has been SOLD. All this can be your’s for $50. If you’re interested and located in the Boston area, please contact Melody . (Fat cat not included)

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Humble Holiday Gifts from Family to Humble Cyclist

A funny thing started happening when “bike everywhere” became my lifestyle mantra: a not-so-subtle increase in bicycling-related gifts, like this t-shirt my brother designed and hand-printed for me:

Or the gift-card my sister brother also drew on my sister’s gift to me: a wool sweater to keep my body heat in and let body perspiration out while biking in this not-yet-so-frigid Boston winter:

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What Are Your 2012 Bicycling Resolutions? Here Are Mine

Posted over at CommuteByBike.com are my 2012 resolutions, which include more riding (of course), more bike- advocacy involvment, and regular drum-biking on my bike-commutes after a year-and-a-half hiatus. Pasted below is my submission, but be sure to check out the full post for resolutions of other the other great CommuteByBike contributors.

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Greg Hum

Greg Hum1. Bike more, weigh less: When I first started biking to work in Boston four years ago, I lost 35 pounds in body weight in under a month by simply biking to work (usually running late from class, as fast as my legs could muster).

In the past month, my daily bike commute has been cut in half while two major holiday seasons have had me consuming twice as much food as usual. As a result, the panting of my lungs now sounds and feels like a 19th century steam engine locomotive climbing Mount Everest. It’s about time I have some good reasons to consciously bundle up and ride my bike more.

2. Drum-bike everywhere again: A few years ago I discovered a hidden talent of mine: that I can play the bucket drums safely while riding my bicycle everywhere Boston and that people loved it. Suddenly I was starting impromptu dance parties and getting stopped by strangers telling me how the sound of my passing rhythms heard while in class, at work, and even the toilet made them smile and think how much more wonderful the city would be with more music.
Drum Biking
This year I learned that riding five-mile morning bike commute and working long hours leaves little energy for drumming. However, now that I have half the commute and twice the fat to burn, I have no excuse to drum again on my bike commutes. Making music in the urban outdoors is making a comeback, and starting this year, so will drum-biking in Boston.


3. Give back to local bicycling advocacy:

Biking in Boston has contributed so much to my well-being over the past four years, it’s time for me to give back to the organizations that have made this possible. Since graduating college and working real jobs that suck up a lot of my time and energy, I’ve been blogging about advocacy from the sidelines. Now that I’ve figured out how to better manage my time and energy, it’s time for me to get back in the game byblogging more and staying in touch with local  bike advocacy dialogue to help make Boston a place that you and everyone will want to bring your kids to explore by bicycle.

Posts by Greg Hum >>

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A Tandem Bicycle Mishap, Illustrated

I can’t imagine anyone riding a tandem bike and not humming/singing the tune to “Bicycle Built for Two,” so I was pretty stoked for my friend Konrad when he told me he bought a tandem bike used. He was pretty excited to take it out for a spin, so when he took it out with his friend Tim the first chance he got, you can imagine the joy he felt when this happened:

I cannot resist drawing bike mishap rage comics. Fortunately, no people or animals were injured in the true life or illustrated versions of this mishap, but for future reference, I’d be weary of buying a $249 tandem bike from these guys, and stay on the lookout for birds attacking bicycles.

If anyone’s wondering, I’m using a much-better-than-MSPaint but free photo-editing app Paint.net to draw these. I have my seventh grade art teacher to thank for teaching me how to use layers in Adobe Photoshop, and my brother, a graphic designer, for giving me some pointers on illustration and design.

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What Are Your Rights When a Driver Assaults You, a Bicyclist?

In my four years of bicycling in and around Boston, all around New York, even touring from Boston to New York twice, I’ve only ever been physically harassed once while riding my bicycle legally on the streets: A few years ago on a Friday night, preparing for a left turn from Cambridge St. to North Harvard Ave. I felt the impact of something hard hit my back and smelt of cheep beer trickle down my legs: Someone had just thrown a half-emtpy beer can at me on my bicycle out the window of a passing car. By the time I realized what had happened, the car was gone with the beer can thrower. Quite frankly, I was confused and pissed, since I had done nothing to provoke this stranger than perhaps ride my bike legally in the lane. Fortunately, I was fine and sustained nothing more than beer-soaked pants on the way home, so I shrugged it off and rode home. I was lucky, but nowhere near as lucky as Alan Simmons’ 2009 incident in Ashville, NC. The NY Times reports:

Alan Simons was enjoying a Sunday morning bicycle ride with his family in Asheville, N.C., two years ago when a man in a sport utility vehicle suddenly pulled alongside him and started berating him for riding on the highway.

Mr. Simons, his 4-year-old son strapped in behind him, slowed to a halt. The driver, Charles Diez, an Asheville firefighter, stopped as well. When Mr. Simons walked over, he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

“Go ahead, I’ll shoot you,” Mr. Diez said, according to Mr. Simons. “I’ll kill you.”

Mr. Simons turned to leave but heard a deafening bang. A bullet had passed through his bike helmet just above his left ear, barely missing him.

Mr. Diez, as it turned out, was one of more than 240,000 people in North Carolina with a permit to carry a concealed handgun. If not for that gun, Mr. Simons is convinced, the confrontation would have ended harmlessly. “I bet it would have been a bunch of mouthing,” he said.

Mr. Diez, then 42, eventually pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Or, if it were not for that gun, perhaps Mr. Simmons would have had a beer can thrown at him as well. And with that opening anecdote, the Times dives in some excellent food for thought surrounding a much heated debate around gun control laws in an article titled “Guns in Public, and Out of Sight.”

I’ll never know who threw that beer can at me on that Friday night in Allston, but it does make me wonder: What if the driver who threw the beer can at me was the one driving? How strict are Massachusetts’ concealed bear can carry laws? Is there a correlation between alcohol sold in MA and beer can assaults on bicyclists in MA? and what are my rights at a bicyclist in Massachusetts for incidents of minor attempted physical assault like I experienced, or very serious attempted assault like Alan Simmons experienced? Fortunately, gun control laws in MA are very different than those in North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean something like what happened to Alan Simmons could never happen here.

I am no expert on Massachusetts law, but perhaps someone who is can shed some light? Perhaps this is a question for BikeSafeBoston.

Updates:

Thanks to Bike Lawyer Josh Zisson of BikeSafeBoston for pointing me to the Massachusetts laws for possession of firearms, which requires someone to have a “Class A” license (the only one that allows concealed carry) to legally carry any firearm in a vehicle. (M.G.H. 140.131)

And thanks to John S. for his insightful comment; once while taking the lane in Boston with other riders, a driver suggested that they “ought to be shot.”:

This reminds me of a time when I was on a group ride coming back from Castle Island in Boston late at night. The road was empty besides the dozen or so of us and a guy driving a minivan. For a half-minute or so he tailgated us then drove up alongside us. Irked by cyclists taking up an entire lane on a near-deserted road, the guy rolled down his window and shouted to us “YOU OUGHT TO BE SHOT,” then drove away.

In John’s case, the confrontation ended non-violently, and we’ll never know whether that driver had a gun or what he might have done were he carrying one. I will speak nothing of the effect of gun control laws on individuals’ behavior here (that’s a job that, as the NYT article pointed out, even economists with access to data struggle with and disagree on). For now though, these two contrasting anecdotes make me feel safer about living in a state where obtaining and concealing firearms is significantly more difficult than walking into a store and walking out with a gun the same day, and where the most dangerous projectile I’ve been hit with is a beer can and some non-violent words.

Posted in Advocacy | 2 Comments

Newsflash: BU Bridge Bike Lanes Complete! Hey, Where’s the Road Rage?

Motor traffic moved quite swimmingly over the BU Bridge today as I rode over on my bicycle in its brand-spanking-new freshly painted bike lanes; not quite the “spur” of “road rage” Boston Globe columnist Stephanie Ebbert predicted some two years ago that I was looking forward to seeing. Have a look for yourself:

Here’s a video of me riding from Cambridge to Boston

and back around from Boston to Cambridge


As you can see, road rage was nowhere to be found, and biking on the BU Bridge was quite pleasant; not quite the four-lane shoulder-less “Death Trap” it used to be:

However, biking into Cambridge, the bike lane turns into a shared bike lane, and as you can see in the video, things can get hairy, so you’ll need to signal and change lanes.

In case you missed it, yesterday marked a major victory in bike-advocacy; over three years after advocacy groups came together to fight for bike lanes on the BU Bridge, and two years since plans for bike lanes were finalized, bike lanes were finally installed on the BU Bridge. And the good folks over at Livable Street Alliance were out on the bridge today and yesterday morning collecting signatures for a thank you card to the City of Boston.

As a longtime advocate for these bike lanes, riding over these bike lanes felt like watching a child grow up, or the City of Boston really starting to get serious about bicyclists.  It seems like only yesterday when in 2008 founding members of BU Bikes like Galen Mook and myself rallied students to show up to meeting to show the DCR meetings that yes, the BU Bridge needs bike lanes, and yes, we are supporters of them. Like only yesterday when I started reporting on these meetings and rallying troops at BU to show support for the bike lanes.

Jackie Douglas (also BU alumni) of Livable Streets once remarked how she stood out on the BU bridge with a ticker to count how many bikers crossed the BU Bridge, and how shocked the DCR members were to hear how high the numbers she reported to them were. Together, we fought for a cause we had no idea would come to be, that only came to fruition years after we’d all graduated, but one that will benefit cyclists crossing the BU bridge for generations to come.

I biked back around a third time just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t, the bike lanes were real. I did, however, notice that even with the bike lanes, at least three other bicyclists were crossing the bridge on the separated sidewalk. I just wanted to yell at them: “there’s a NEW bike lane on this here bridge!” but who could blame them, when the protected sidewalk seems like an obvious choice coming off the protected Memorial Drive bike path? Nonetheless, maybe we can’t have protected bike lanes on the BU Bridge (though I did experience what it would be like if we did last month), but we can fight for more livable streets, and bike lane dreams can come true.

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Get Ready: BU Bridge Gets Bike Lanes Tomorrow Morning

Three years ago bike lanes on the BU Bridge didn’t seem likely, but advocacy organizations including BU Bikes, Livable Streets Alliance and Mass Bike (to name a few) fought for them. Two years ago the plans for bike lanes were finalized and renovation of the bridges began. Last month I posted a video hinting at what a bike lane on the BU Bridge would be like. Tomorrow morning bike lanes are being installed on the BU Bridge, and you’re invited to come and celebrate!

In an e-mail from Galen Mook to BU Bikes, a fellow BU Bikes Co-Founder you may have seen around town giving talks for Hubway Bike Share.

I’ve been asked by LivableStreets Alliance to put the call out for celebratory volunteers to show up on the BU Bridge on Weds morning to help hoot and hollar and celebrate the soon-to-be-newly painted bike lanes on the bu bridge. YES, you heard right, BIKE LANES ON THE BU BRIDGE!!

Here’s what the plans looked like for the bridge, and what to expect (you can check out my full report on the 2009 DCR Public Meeting confirming these plans if you’re curious):

Will I be bringing my camera to share some footage and my bucket drums to get the 8am rush-hour party started? You betcha’.

 

 

 

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Capturing Biking in Boston with Cartoon Drawings, 1978 to Present

I learned the value of artistic expression at a pretty early age; one time my parents wouldn’t let me eat Oreo cookies before going to bed, so I grabbed my handy box of crayons and in a fit of six-year-old rage, unleashed my finest crayon masterpiece to date all over the walls of my closet. For years to come, these crayon masterpieces on my closet walls would always serve to remind me that even if I can’t always have Oreos before bed, I can always express how I feel using writing utensils (and learn how thrilled my parents were about cleaning up my mess). The greatest thing about biking in this great city of Boston is that everyone’s has a unique biking experience, and sometimes, the best way to capture these sometimes ridiculous experiences is by drawing them with digital crayons.

An artist/blogger calling herself “Bikeyface” has taken Boston’s biking community by storm this year with her awesome and hilarious illustrations of her thoughts and experiences biking in Boston, like her illustrations of potholes she experiences on Mass. Ave,

A more practical way to mount bike reflectors,
Winter Perks
and how safer drivers would behave around bikers if only we’d all mount puppies to our handlebars:

Even though bikeyface has only been biking in Boston for a little over a year, she’s no doubt captured the feel for biking in Boston that many of us identify with, and even has some great ideas to share. But she’s not the only bicyclist in Boston who has whipped out digital crayons to express their experiences on biking in Boston.
In fact, a thread started a few years ago on bikeforums.net, titled “MS Paint Your Mishaps” encourages riders all over the world of all drawing abilities to share their biking mishaps using MS paint, many of which ended up including the infamous rage face at the end.

I loved this idea of drawing bike mishaps so much I started a Boston version of this thread over on Bostonfixed.us discussion forum to invite members of Boston’s fixed-gear community to share their own mishaps (some users have posted mishaps that are NSFW, you’ve been warned), and soon members of Boston’s fixed gear community came up with their own wonderful cartoon drawings of biking mishaps. Bikeyface captures the potholes on Mass Ave. accurately, but as bostonfixed user Reid and Carol points out, there is more to look out for on Mass. Ave. than Texas-sized potholes:

Or, as I discovered when I first started biking around Boston everywhere a few years ago, there is even more to look out for while biking than potholes and doors:

At MIT:

At BU:

and on the Minuteman Trail

Two summers ago I had the pleasure of living with a family in JP who had been living and biking in Boston for over 30 years (as well as the pleasure of moving my belongings from JP to Somerville by bike). From traveling and biking all over the world, various members of this family had gathered quite an impressive collection of maps from all over the world, but what caught my eye was sitting on their bookshelf apart from the rest of their maps, this Bike Map of Boston from the year 1978:

Opening it up reveals a map familiar to anyone who’s ever seen the Rubel Bike Map of Boston (which this map would later become). But what’s this? An “Illustrated Guide” to Commuting in Boston? And flipping the map to its reverse side did not reveal a slew of advertisements like the City of Boston’s new 2009/2010 Bike Map, but a series of cartoon drawings featuring the adventure of Alice B. Toeclips and her bike-commuting journey through Boston.

Illustrated examples of bicyclists signaling in traffic and yelling “on your left!” on Memorial Drive? Check. Bike-safety superhero named Sprocketman? Check. Human-powered “Gossimer Condor” aircrafts flying over Commonwealth Ave? Yep, Boston’s got those. There is much more to this cartoon than in the image above, but you deserve better than sub-par camera scans, so I’ll be scanning the rest of it soon with an actual scanner and sharing it here.

You may have many questions like I did when I first saw this map, like, “How was there a Boston Bike map in 1978 when the city’s very first bike lane didn’t appear until 2008?” and “who is Alice B. Toeclips?”

Well, as it turns out, biking and Boston have had a long history even before it’s very first bike lane in 2008 (even dating back to the 19th century). So dear readers, stay tuned for an upcoming post with answers to these questions and more, including complete digital scans of this map and included cartoon illustrated guide to biking in Boston circa 1978.

Posted in Advocacy, Bike History, Illustrations | Leave a comment