Ready ... Set ... Go New Haven Go!

Markeshia Ricks Photo Kathy Fay biked to City Hall Wednesday to help launch the third year of New Haven’s car-less commuting challenge — because, she said, she knows firsthand the joy that comes from walking and cycling to and from her job.

“I crave the decompression time,” she said. “It really has changed my life.”

Fay works as the Home Improvement and Energy Conservation Lab manager for Neighborhood Housing Services. She started tapping into that joy when NHS joined the first Go New Haven Go CarFree challenge back in 2014 as a participating organization.

Fay biked downtown Wednesday to join officials on the steps of City Hall in launching the third year of the challenge and the use of alternative transportation for the month of September.

Participants sign up for the challenge and then keep track of how they get to work in September. Employers and individual commuters compete in different size categories. The most trips that involve alternatives to single-car-occupancy commuting —  biking, bus-riding, walking, ride-sharing — bring prizes sponsored by local businesses.

New Haven’s air gets a little cleaner: 2015’s 483 participants reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 74.12 tons by saving 52,055 car-driving miles, according, to the city.

And people feel lighter: Participants burned 587,785 calories and saved $87,399.

The goal is that more people like Fay continue commuting that way all year.

Fay said that the challenge did exactly what it was designed to do: It changed her behavior.

“I have participated since 2014, and I am so much healthier now,” she said. “I didn’t just participate during the month. I actually changed my lifestyle. So now, I walk and bike to work almost every day.”

Fay said when she walks, she sees more of her neighbors, the changing seasons and New Haven’s urban nature.

“It’s a truly an enriching experience,” she said. “If you take the bus, you’ll see a lot more of your neighbors, plus you do walking in between. And finally for me personally, when I bike, I just feel so great. I end up tapping back into that energy I had as a kid, riding the bike, feeling free. It’s made me feel so much younger. Just for that experience alone it’s been worth it. So, go New Haven go!”

City transit chief Doug Hausladen said that participants in the challenge, which include individuals, businesses and other organizations around town, have already exceeded last year’s numbers with 550 signed up so far. The challenge is just that, a competition, that includes perks and prizes for those who reduce their environmental impact the most.

“The more people who sign up, the better our environment will be, the better our sustainable transportation will be, and of course, the more money that each and every one of you will save on your commute,” he said. “We’re not asking you to not step foot in a car all month, but take these opportunities where you can walk to work. Try the bus system.”

One of the perks of signing up for the challenge is that you can contact CTrides, a state Department of Transportation program that encourages the use of public transit. The program can create a custom commute plan to help you navigate the trip from your house to work. If you do that, you can get a free 10-ride bus pass to use for the month.

Coby Zeifman, outreach coordinator for CTrides, said that other perks include free fries with burger purchases at Shake Shack and discounts at other area restaurants like Ashley’s, Atticus, the Juice Box, Thali and Thali Too.

Hausladen said in addition to all the prizes, weekly Friday events will encourage the use of alternative transportation.

Though the challenge ends at the end of September, another initiative — Walktober — will kick off the following month. Businesses like Denali and SeeClickFix (whose CEO hoofs it to work already) will host the walks. Hausladen said in coming weeks the city will announce the results of a $1 million bus study and also make an announcement about a bike-share program that is coming to the city.

Mayor Toni Harp said the September Go NewHaven Go challenge isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. But she said if you must use a car, invite some co-workers or friends along for the ride. Combine errands into a single trip instead of making multiple trips.

“Think about it,” she said. “Shared rides in a carpool reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent just with the first passenger.”

She urged the public to honor New Haven’s environmental attributes — its coastline, three rivers and parkland that covers 20 percent of the city — and its “legacy of environmental awareness and stewardship.”

“Let’s advance that legacy this next month by embracing the goals of Go New Haven Go’s CarFree Challenge. Let’s recommit ourselves to New Haven with cleaner air, healthier residents and a more sustainable transportation system going forward.”

(Just sayin’: The Independent, where no one drives to work, won first place last year in the small business category.)

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 1, 2016  8:43am

Hausladen: There’s more to come

Take back New Haven Doug Hausladen at it again.Drivers we must wake up.There is more to come.I bet this is what will be coming. Red light Cameras.More Police enforcement on Car Drivers.Parking Meters going up.More Bike lanes.

Though the challenge ends at the end of September, another initiative — Walktober — will kick off the following month. Businesses like Denali and SeeClickFix (whose CEO hoofs it to work already) will host the walks. Hausladen said in coming weeks the city will announce the results of a $1 million bus study and also make an announcement about a bike-share program that is coming to the city.

Bike-Share program alright. This will be your Bike-Share program coming soon and will take away parking spaces.

Citi Bike plans to expand to the Upper East and West Sides

http://nypost.com/2015/01/28/citi-bike-plans-to-expand-to-the-upper-east-and-west-sides/


Why don’t we all just turn in our car keys to the vampire bicycle lobby?  That way you will give up your car and ride a bike.

posted by: meta on September 1, 2016  10:26am

3/5 : “Red light Cameras.More Police enforcement on Car Drivers.Parking Meters going up.More Bike lanes…. give up your car and ride a bike.”

All great ideas. Not sure what the “vampire bicycle lobby” is, but I’d gladly open my veins for a more bicycle-friendly town.

posted by: RobotShlomo on September 1, 2016  11:59am

@Threefifths

The funny part of that is those Citi Bikes were stolen as they were being delivered!!

http://nypost.com/2013/05/27/well-that-was-fast-first-citi-bike-cycle-stolen/

Another bike share in Seattle had to be bailed out by the city to the tune of a million and a half dollars, because it went bankrupt. I give it about two weeks before those bikes start disappearing.

“We’re not asking you to not step foot in a car all month, but take these opportunities where you can walk to work. Try the bus system.”

Yes, because who doesn’t want to ride the bus to Hamden which will take you an hour (if they’re running on time), when it would take you ten minutes to drive?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 1, 2016  12:59pm

posted by: meta on September 1, 2016 11:26am

3/5 : “Red light Cameras.More Police enforcement on Car Drivers.Parking Meters going up.More Bike lanes…. give up your car and ride a bike.”

All great ideas. Not sure what the “vampire bicycle lobby” is, but I’d gladly open my veins for a more bicycle-friendly town.

Great Ideas.Ask the people in New York about Citi Bike Bike-Share program.

Rich People Are Getting Citi Bike Stations Removed From Their Blocks

http://gawker.com/rich-people-are-getting-citi-bike-stations-removed-from-548826063

“Red light Cameras

Red Light Cameras Are The Ultimate Scam For Drivers And For Cities

http://digg.com/video/red-light-scameras


but I’d gladly open my veins for a more bicycle-friendly town.

You already have a bicycle-friendly town.The police do not enforce the laws when bicycle rides run red lights run stop signs ride on sidewalks.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 1, 2016  2:43pm

Re: bike riders on sidewalks. State law now permits riders to use judgment as to when to do it for safety reasons.
Lower chapel is really dangerous because of the volume of traffic, as well as the buses and stops.
Any rider on a sidewalk should be a good guest and walk if there are many pedestrians.
As for those people still not wearing a helmet, I hope you have your donor card on you.
that goes for people wearing black at night with NO lights on their bikes.
Why do I care more about your safety than you do????

posted by: RichTherrn on September 1, 2016  6:27pm

OK, OK!
I am going to try to walk to the office tomorrow.. (stopping at a couple schools on the way)..

Just realize that some of us that need to travel around the city daily as part of our job, can’t afford to spend the time it takes to bus/bike/walk all the time…

I will say, as a New Haven walker/driver, I find many bikers to be depressingly unpredictable..

sometimes they fly by me on a sidewalk, sometimes they obey the walk/pedestrian signs, many times they don’t, sometimes they act like cars,
and MANY, MANY times I see them running red lights, especially around downtown and unfortunately, around our schools.

The key to safety is predictability for all three!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 2, 2016  9:53am

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 1, 2016 3:43pm

Re: bike riders on sidewalks. State law now permits riders to use judgment as to when to do it for safety reasons.

When did the State change the Law?

posted by: William Kurtz on September 2, 2016  12:22pm

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 2, 2016 10:53am

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 1, 2016 3:43pm

Re: bike riders on sidewalks. State law now permits riders to use judgment as to when to do it for safety reasons.

When did the State change the Law?

They didn’t.

“Sidewalk Riding

Connecticut allows bicycles to operate on sidewalks subject to the following rules:

Each person operating a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or across any roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal within a reasonable distance before overtaking and passing a pedestrian; and
No person shall operate a bicycle upon or along a sidewalk or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk if such operation is prohibited by any ordinance of any city, town or borough or by any regulation of the State Traffic Commission.
Source: Conn. Gen. Stat. §14-286”

Sidewalk riding is prohibited in New Haven.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 2, 2016  1:25pm

Threefifths, you are right that NH prohibits it, but other towns permit it. Many of us bike in many different towns.

http://www.norwalkct.org/DocumentCenter/View/7556

As both a pedestrian and a cyclist, I think the Ordinance might have been well-meaning, but it does not work in many parts of town where the traffic is simply too dangerous for a bicycle to be in the road. E.g. chapel Street and Olive Street. A useless law on the books doesn’t solve a problem and does create disdain for meaningless rules. Our reality here is that a cyclist HAS to take to the sidewalk sometimes and the law should acknowledge and accommodate that.

I admit to using the sidewalks mysel fto avoid death from time to time.
I always defer to pedestrians on the sidewalk because they have priority. If necessary, I walk my bike.

No doubt you will write to highlight outrageous and rude riders you have seen on the sidewalks. I’ve seen them too. Most of them don’t wear a helmet, have a bell or use lights in the evening.
Cynics will call them potential donors.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 2, 2016  5:01pm

@ Dwightstreeter

Here is my point. If a person wants to ride a bike. I have no problem .But just do not enforce the law on drivers.Enforce the law on everybody .I have seen people on bikes ride on the side walk with the police there. I have seen people on bikes run lights and stop signs and the police are right there. Same with Jay walking.I have never said I am not for people riding bikes.I have said if those people break the law then they should be give a ticket lthe same as a driver.