Tag Archives: biking

New report shows people of color want more cycling equity

New Majority: cycling equityThe New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity, a joint report released on May 29, 2013 by the League of American Bicyclists and the Sierra Club, shows that

85% of people of color (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and mixed race) have a positive view of bicyclists and 71% say their community would be a better place to live if bicycling were safer and more comfortable.

It is safer to bike in white neighborhoods than communities of color, where there is less access to bicycles and more bicycle and pedestrian crashes. The report,

… underlines stories of powerful local efforts of communities organizing to address these issues, opening up new lanes to cycling in communities often overlooked by traditional transportation planners and cycling advocates … and … uncovers stories and data that point to consistent disparities and inequities in the manner in which people of color, women and youth — including groups that are bicycling at higher rates and have more to gain in terms of bike benefits — are engaged in bicycling-related matters. For example, data gathered by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition revealed that neighborhoods with the highest percentage of people of color had a lower distribution of cycling facilities — and areas with the lowest median household income ($22,656 annually) were also the areas with the highest number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

Download report

Success with first (almost) bike ride in 30 years

I did get on a bike for about 15 minutes at a family Y camp weekend six or seven years ago. I walked away wondering if I could stand ever getting bike on a bike seat again because my rear end hurt so bad from my weight being concentrated on one tiny little seat. Despite misgivings, and having lost about 100 pounds since then, I drove to Liberty State Park in Jersey City yesterday and rode for half an hour. I’m glad to report that my butt was fine this time, I enjoyed the ride and I also learned a couple of interesting truths.

First of all, it is definitely the case that a person never forgets how to ride a bicycle – even a slim-wheeled road bike with the kind of handles you have to lean over to grasp hold of. But you have to be really brave to take the step of launching yourself forward into gravity balancing mode and relying on the mechanics of biking. Before I got moving, I almost fell over a bunch of times. Then I gave myself a stern talking to. I said, “You’ve done this zillions of times before. You know that once you get the bike going the forward movement will help you balance. If you’re too fat and out of shape to stay on the bike you’ll find that out pretty quickly and then you can go home with at least the accomplishment of having found this out under your belt.

Before you get to go home, though, you have to try to ride this bike. That’s what you committed to do today, it’s something you’ve thought about doing for about 10 years, you really want to get back in the bike riding habit and there’s no other way to get there except by actually riding; you desperately need more exercise and to launch into a more physically active lifestyle, and biking may be the key to all this so you really need to give it a shot. On the plus side, there’s a reasonably good chance that you’re going to be able to ride now, since you’ve ridden so many times before, even though that was many years ago. Basically, you just have to worry about falling over before you can get the happy forward motion going, and then how you’re going to hop off the seat to get your legs on the ground before the bike stops moving when you want to stop.” This pep talk helped, although I did ask myself why I hadn’t had the foresight to wear pants on this ride just in case I did end up falling over and scraping my flesh along the ground. I reminded myself that if that happened I probably wouldn’t be going fast enough to do any serious damage. I was a bundle of all kinds of enthusiastic optimism.

I adjusted the pedals so I could push down easily on one of them, pushed down firmly and lo and behold, Good Lord, there I was riding a bike all by myself!

I next discovered that when riding a bike configured with lean-over handlebars, steering is a challenge because your weight tends to be forward on the handlebars. If you’re leaning too hard on them your own weight makes it difficult to change direction. I backed onto the seat a bit so my weight was distributed more evenly between handles and seat, and then steering was easier. Easier, that is, not easy. I spent my half hour ride shouting out to people walking on the path in front of me to please move to one side because, “I don’t know what I’m doing. First bike ride in 30 years!” (Close enough to truth.)

I wobbled when I tried to direct the bike right or left, found it impossible to make tight turns because doing so required that I slow down too much to stay balanced; and when I went up any incline with a grade of more than 10% I pretty much lost control of my steering altogether. Apparently, the effort of cycling harder competed with my ability to keep my hands steady on the handlebars. That wasn’t fun.

Cross-country biker John Sowell had cautioned me to bring a sweater because the air tends to be cool next to the waterfront. Great advice because it was cool, but then I had the curious sensation of my face and legs being coolish while sweating under my sweatshirt from exertion.

I found out that biking leaning over the handlebars gives arms a workout as well as legs, and after dismounting my legs wobbled like they do after I’ve ridden a horse (another activity I haven’t tried for several decades). And, I learned that I really need a bike rack: some cool army guys and a volunteer for the fund-raising walk taking place in the park lifted my bike in and out of the car for me, but I can’t count on help like that always being available. I definitely didn’t have the strength to lift my bike into the back of the car when I was finished riding.

I discovered that I like riding a heck of a lot more than I like walking, and also discovered that while it must be nice to experience the surrounding world from the open-air perspective of biking, it’s going to be a while until I feel secure enough to look at anything besides the ground directly in front of me when I ride. I now understand why many lady bikers prefer not to bike alongside vehicular traffic. I can’t imagine doing any of what I did yesterday next to a moving line of cars, and surviving. It happens to be really difficult to find off-road flattish bike paths in northern New Jersey, though.

All good take-aways for my first independent bike foray. Most importantly, I had a good time and am eager to get back into the saddle again.

Safe biking in Bergen County – discuss it at Green Drinks Hackensack 2/13

This Monday at Green Drinks, a few of us from the Fair Lawn Green Team will be discussing safe bike routes in north Jersey, especially how to create a direct connection from the county bike path to Bergen Community College. We welcome input and would love to know what your biking concerns are.

Monday 13 February 2011 | 7:00pm
Victor’s Maywood Inn
122 W. Pleasant Avenue, Maywood, NJ
(201) 843-8022
Admission: Always free
Food: Pay only for food and drinks you order
Parking: free on site

Green Drinks Hackensack Monday 2/13 @ 7:00pm
Green Drinks Paterson/Clifton TUESDAY 2/21 @ 7:00pm
Green Drinks Newark Monday 3/5 @ 7:00pm

Espanõl-parlantes muy bienvenidos en todas las reuniones Green Drinks! Visite http://greendrinks3.org para información sobre nuestra organización en español.

We have a nice and growing group in Hackensack hosted by Ivan Gomez Wei, Sally Gellert, Yulieth Peña and Kim Wei. I hope you’ll come by and share a drink and some chicken wings with us. If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t worry – many Greendrinkers don’t. We are in Hackensack every 2nd Monday.

A Green Drinks get-together is: Lively, casual conversation with other people interested in green or sustainable life, business and community practices, green jobs, the green economy and urban farming/gardening. Feel free to drop by for however long you like – as the general monthly meetings have no set format and people come and go during the evening.

We always meet in places where the food is good and prices are easy on the pocket. And by the way, Green Drinks gatherings ARE NOT about drinking or green colored drinks. They’re about the environment!

Open to the public, discussions are where you want to take them, and admission is always free. Green professionals, area residents and all others are welcome! Help us build a friendly new green community one person at a time, by joining us one evening.

More info at greendrinks3.org