After a week of pleasant surprises and unpleasant roadblocks, Friday evoked a chorus among a bunch of commuters: TGIS.
As in: Thank God It’s Sunshine.
“It was a joy to ride my bike to work today,” reported Laurie Hasselmann, who rides from North Madison to the Yale College Publications Office. “Sunshine, dry roads, polite motorists, light breeze, and the ever-present company of songbirds. This is exactly the ride that I envisioned for inspiration during the dark and cold months.”
Hasselmann is one of the New Haven commuters who have been keeping diaries this week of their travels to and from the city for work—whether by car, by train, by bus, or on two wheels. Thanks to everyone who participated!
A common theme Friday was: What a day for two wheels.
Time To Spread The Love
By Michael Sernyak
Sernyak (pictured) commutes by bike from Branford to his job running New Haven’s Connecticut Mental Health Center.
How can you not arrive with a smile on a day like today?
Fridays are my favorite day to commute as I embrace the concept that I don’t actually have to travel the shortest distance between two points. So, after taking the most direct way into New Haven from Branford, I meet up with a regular Friday ride run by Guido Wollmann that is another 30 miles.
Since I don’t actually go to the office before this, I consider this an extension of the commute. The great part about this part of the commute is the chance to catch up with others—primarily other faculty and staff at Yale along with my favorite bike store owner, Bob. This is a very sociable way to spend another two hours on the bike, and on days like today, I can’t think of a better way to start the day.
Today was special as after the ride I called on David at Devil’s Gear to discuss a plan we will be putting in place at CMHC to pay people to commute to work by bike. We can’t afford much, but we hope to encourage others at the hospital to start the day the right way!
Bicycles For Two
By Trip Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick commutes from Hamden’s Spring Glen neighborhood to a job at Yale as an instructional technologist.
If there’s something better than riding my bike to work on the Farmington Canal Trail on a beautiful day, it’s taking my son to school on my bike on a beautiful day.
Pull in all the clichés you want about how great it is to be with a young child and see things newly through their eyes, and I’m a sucker for every one on a day like today.
When I take him to school, I don’t notify my occasional morning riding partner, because I have to leave much later than he needs. But what conversation I lose without him I gain back in talking to the boy in the child seat on the back of my ride.
We greeted the birds, the grass, the trees, the bushes, a rock, a fence, and so on. Since it’s only a four-mile transit, we don’t get to the point when even a sap like me would get tired of the game of “What’s that?”
It’s a little unfortunate that if we get going at a good clip (and if we aren’t moving smartly, what’s the point?) I start to be able to not hear what he has to say, what with the wind in my ears. His diction is not what it will be in a few years, either, but that’s not his fault.
What’s also a bit unfortunate is that we don’t see that many people out on the trail, so he may be internalizing a greenway trail as something that doesn’t get much use. However, I don’t think that’s going to maim his psyche terribly, just skew him a little bit back toward car culture. What will push him that way a little more is also that he won’t be on the trail in all conditions. We’ve got just a back seat, not a trailer, so no chance of him going out in the rain with me (once I get up my own stomach for doing that). Little steps, though, and hoping that we are moving faster than the oncoming climatic calamity.
Everything goes in circles, right? (I prefer to think of things as moving in helixes, but that ends up sounding a little precious.) So I began this series of posts talking about a favor that a bus rider received on Monday, and today I got what I can only assume is a Frequent Rider Benefit of its own.
As in a good video game, though, not all the prizes are out in the open. Some of them you find by just being persistent and thorough.
When I got on my bus today, I dipped my card, only to see the “No Rides” error come up on the LED display. Fine, no problem, since I use 10-ride passes and always keep some spares in my wallet. But oops — same result on the second card. Further oops — no more cards in my wallet.
The anticlimax to this story is that the driver waved me on anyway. (If CT Transit is reading this, please note that this was good behavior on the part of the driver.) Another beautiful morning for the weather, and it’s a good start to the day.
But what happens when the weather isn’t so great? Do a daily commuter diary in the winter months and you’ll see a pretty different story. In fact, this is one of my biggest complaints about the bus system. The unpredictability of the arrival of the bus is a problem, sure. Getting one of the old buses makes for an unpleasant commute, right. But each of these would be made better by not having to stand out in the elements, especially if there’s something I need to take to work that isn’t waterproof. While I’m slowly outfitting my bike and myself to be able to ride in when it’s raining, standing in one place being cold and wet is a lot less fun.
Naturally, I wouldn’t want a bus shelter in my front yard, and currently I wait in front of a residence. But it’s a three-minute walk for me into the center of Spring Glen, where there could be one, and it’s a five-minute walk to Best Video in the other direction, which could also have one. In fact, the sidewalk at Best Video looks suspiciously like it has vestiges of an ancient civilization’s bus shelter implanted in it. Though the situation is undoubtedly more complicated than I am making out, CT Transit ought to recognize that it would increase ridership and improve rider satisfaction if we had a place to keep dry. (Who knows, we might even find we had a guerilla upholsterer in our midst!)
Previous “Commuter Diary” installments: