Listen to the sound of spring! It’s the sound of the crusty old snowplow piles finally shrinking. For someone who’s been biking as many days as I can all winter, that’s a welcome sound. The cold doesn’t bother me that much, but glaciers are partially or wholly blocking bike lanes on Beacon. I’ll be very happy to see them shrink.
Tuesday, January 21, 6:30-8:30pm City Hall Cafeteria
What the heck is a mapping party?
It’s a quick and fun way to add data to digital maps. In this case, parking spaces. Why? Because every time we want to plan a bike lane, Newton has to undertake an expensive parking study. With all the data in a digital map, there’s no need for a study!
Organized by One Hwang, the party is open to any city resident or interested community member. Bring a laptop/tablet with wifi capability and a browser. WE will map all of the car parking spaces. There will be easy data entry tasks and hard ones; we will make sure that anything given to you is at a level you’re comfortable with.
Questions? Email One Hwang at email@example.com
NNHS PTO – Just Think Expo
Wednesday, January 22, two times:
11:15am – 1:15pm (for students)
5:00pm – 7:30pm (During Junior Parent Night, for parents and teens)
Volunteers are needed to staff the Bike Newton table at the Just Think: Teens Making Smart Choices expo. The expo showcases Newton’s many community resources. In addition to explaining why it’s important to wear a helmet and obey traffic laws, Alicia will show the famous “Things not to do on a bike” YouTube video. Come help her show kids how to ride safely!
When snow threatens to keep me off my bike, I reflect on how I’ve been able to bike to work for a remarkably high percentage days in late fall and winter this season, with minimal investments in gear. This capability depends on three things:
1. Alternatives to driving: my commute is short (2.5 miles), and moderately convenient to the T. That is, on days when I’d rather not bike (rain, snow, ice), I can walk 1/2 mile to the Highlands station, take the T two stops to Chestnut Hill, and walk another 1/2 mile to BC, making my commute a pleasant 25-35 minutes. “How nice for you!” you might say. Well, yes, it’s quite convenient that I live and work on a T line… but that’s no accident. One criteria for moving out to the ‘burbs for me was that we’d live within a half-mile radius of a T station, so I wouldn’t have to spend every day in a car. And in job searches I’ve prioritized positions near (ish) to public transportation, and luck did the rest. I know I may be in the minority, and I don’t expect people who have 5+ mile commutes to keep going all winter… but I can, so I’m taking full advantage.
2. Two warmth items specific to biking: a skull-cap to wear under my helmet, and serious gloves. I should call them gauntlets. Dad just sent them to me for Christmas. (Thanks, Dad!)
These gauntlets kept my fingers toasty the other morning at 11 degrees. B.G. (Before Gauntlets), my lower limit was 15 degrees, and that was pushing it. A.G., I’m pretty confident I can go pretty close to zero. Of course, I’ve only got a 2.5 mile ride; if it were longer, I don’t think I could go below 10 without adding a neoprene face-mask to my wardrobe.
3. Lights. Lots of lights. I have one powerful headlight on the handlebars, a smaller headlight on top of my helmet and a flashing red on the back of the helmet, and another flashing red below the saddle. And a reflective vest. And reflective ankle-straps. I briefly balked at the prices of headlights, and then reminded myself that aside from brakes, it’s probably the most important safety feature on the bike. I set my front headlight on flash during the day. Why? When I drive in Newton and I’m stopped or going slow in traffic, I frequently am startled by the sudden appearance of a bike to my right – right where I often am on my own bike, and right where even I, veteran biker that I am, might fail to see a bike as I turn right. Once, something in my passenger side-view mirror caught my eye: it was a flashing bike headlight about 100 yards behind me. From that day onward, I set my headlight on flash during the day.
And that’s it! Alternatives to driving, a few warmth items, and lights.
Aside from the skullcap and gauntlets, none of my warmth gear is bike-specific: sweaters, tweed jackets, an LL Bean jacket, a scarf for those below 20 days, and I always have the option of wool socks and thermal underwear, though I haven’t needed them yet.
People think I’m nuts, biking when it’s under 20, but it really isn’t: nobody blinks about skiing in those temperatures, so why not bike? To be honest, now that I’ve done it, I much prefer biking when it’s 15 degrees to biking when it’s 90. If I get the layers right, I’m not even sweaty when I get to work.
Nuts? I’ll show you nuts: the guy I saw on a skinny-tired road-bike the day after a snow, when shoulders were still snowy and icy, in dark clothes, with no lights. Now that’s nuts.
Early on at Bike Newton at one of our monthly steering committee meetings, Nathan Aronow set the tone for one of our big priorities as an organization: “Get people out on their bikes on the road. They’ll have fun, and they’ll keep biking.” Sparked by that wisdom, we hosted a number of Rally and Rides in 2008-10, put together a number of 7-8 mile rides that we host each Monday evening from May to early October, and did what we could to help out with the two annual Christina Clark Genco Foundation rides (and will again in the future!)
And of course, Bike Newton was deeply involved from top to bottom in the recent Tour de Newton, which became an instant hit, with over 300 participants even after a rain-out and frantic rescheduling that became known affectionately as the reTour. The popularity will definitely bring it back next year and hopefully for years to come.
But we do a lot of less visible, behind the scenes work, too, to pave the way (so to speak) for safer, more convenient biking in Newton. In 2009 we applied to be awarded the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community award. On the first application, we didn’t get it. So we lobbied for more bike racks in more convenient locations, and helped arrange dozens of low-cost installations partly funded by the MAPC, we worked with Dr. Peter Furth and his Northeastern University highway engineering students to create bikeway designs for several major arteries, we resuscitated long-shelved but worthy plans for citywide bike accommodations that were revised according to actual road use as revealed in a detailed survey and several bike censuses, we created (and have continued to revise) the Newton Bicycle Map, we got bike instruction into the middle schools, and we lobbied for–and got–a City Bicycle Coordinator position. In that role, Lois Levin has been able to help the city begin to adopt more bicycle-friendly policies and get more bike lanes painted, and helped create the City’s Transportation Advisory Group.
And because of all that work, we’re now officially a bicycle-friendly community!
Yay, Bike Newton membership! OK, now get back to work.
We’re still at the lowest level of bicycle-friendly community: Bronze. We can do better: Silver, Gold, Platinum… Here’s what we’re working on: painting more bike lanes and designing safer intersections, expanding Hubway into Newton, embedding bike infrastructure improvements more firmly into city planning and budgeting, getting a bike safety curriculum into all of Newton’s schools, helping the Newton police adopt enforcement priorities, and continuing to expand public bicycling events like Tour de Newton. If you want to help us, please become a member, sign up to be a volunteer, and/or make sure your Aldermen and the Mayor know that it’s not just an “interest group” that wants these improvements, but a majority of Newtonites who know that a bicycle-friendly community is a human-friendly community.
Imagine the camaraderie of Tour de Newton on Newton streets all year! That’s what a bicycle-friendly community can bring to everyone.
The inaugural Tour de Newton, organized by Bike Newton and the City of Newton, included a drawing for a free TREK bike donated by International Bicycle Center, Newton. On October 13th 300+ riders set out to bike around the city , including 67 children.
So, you didn’t get to participate in the original Tour de Newton because of schedule conflicts? For you, the rain last Sunday was a welcome reprieve, because now you can register for the Tour de Newton ReTour this coming Sunday, October 13.
The weather is shaping up for a lovely fall day. Plan to arrive at 9:00 for a timely send-off. We hope to see you!
By now you’ve probably heard that Tour de Newton was rained out this past Sunday. A few sturdy riders came out anyway and rode the circuit with a few sturdy ride leaders, showing just how committed Newtonites are to riding. But the full-scale Tour de Newton has been rescheduled for this coming Sunday, the 13th, at 9:30am, and the organizing committee is working hard to make sure the Tour can be everything it was originally intended to be.
Those who have already registered need not re-register, but we do need you to RSVP by Wednesday at 6pm so we have solid numbers on which to base ride leaders and to report to the Newton Police. (If you already registered, you should have gotten an email asking you to RSVP. If you didn’t, please let us know!) We also would like to open up registration to others; if you are registered and you know you won’t be able to participate, please RSVP with a “no” to free up spots for others.
Those who were not able to register originally and would like to register now that the date has changed: we ask for patience. We should have a clearer grasp of the numbers by Thursday, and will open up registration spaces to the extent that we can find sufficient ride leaders (many of whom had plans for Columbus Day weekend). Look for notices on this blog, on the bikenewton.org homepage, on the Bike Newton facebook page, and on Twitter (@BikeNewton and/or hashtag #TourDeNewton).
Our organizing committee is working hard to find ride leaders and village greeters. If you think you could help with leading a ride, please contact Lois Levin.If you think you could help with setting up and/or staffing village greeter stations, please contact Jerry Reilly.
For those who are definitely coming: Arrive early to register, get a quick visual safety check of your bike, learn the ride route and some safety instructions, and learn a little about your village with your village’s official Tour de Newton greeters. A 9:00am arrival would be ideal.
Sunday, October 6 9:30 AM, starting from each of Newton’s 13 Villages
325 registered bikers so far!
Online registration will close at 6:00pm Friday, October 4, to allow us time to create and distribute registration lists to village hosts. Participants will still be able to register at start locations: please arrive by 9:00am if you plan to register onsite, to avoid delays! Also note that the following locations are already quite full, and we recommend choosing other village centers for a starting point: Newton Center, Newtonville, West Newton, Waban, Upper Falls.
An infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health