The brisk weather and a few dark clouds didn’t stop over 30 bikers from riding to City Hall last Friday morning to enjoy a warm breakfast and meet fellow New Haven cyclists.
Once a month, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Elm City Cycling, a New Haven nonprofit bicycling and advocacy group with more than 400 members, coordinates Bike to Work Day to encourage riding in New Haven. This effort began five years ago, said Melinda Tuhus, board member of Elm City Cycling and organizer of the event.
“We’ve had a lot of new people today,” Tuhus said, adding that advertising the event on Facebook led to a surge of new attendees beyond the 40 to 60 people who regularly attend.
Two riders at the event said safety is the most important issue for their cycling.
“We got involved to make the streets safer,” said Westville resident, Bill Tindill, who biked to City Hall with his son. Biking builds a sense of community camaraderie, he said, noting that his family, along with other families of cyclists, ride regularly to increase the presence of bikers on New Haven roads. Tindill said that he thought more bikers on the roads would make them safer for pedestrians, cars and other cyclists.
Cold Springs School, a small, progressive, independent elementary school on Chapel Street, sponsored Friday’s event by paying for the breakfast, catered by Bru Cafe, on Orange Street.
Sarah Armstong, a teacher at Cold Springs, said she tries to instill a love of cycling in her family.
“I usually ride to work with my kids every day,” she said.
In addition to the fresh coffee and baked goods, the Bike to Work breakfast is also a stage for announcements regarding community projects, Tuhus said. Last week Paul Hammer SOM ’85, who refers to himself as “Rick Shaw,” gave a presentation on his new pedicab business, Cabike!
Hammer said he has no fixed prices for pedicab rides.
“Our motto is: You set the fare and we’ll take you anywhere,” he said.
Hammer said that people are responding well to this pricing scheme, noting that one passenger paid $20 to ride five blocks from Orange Street to Audubon Street.
People who might not normally ride pedicabs around New Haven will do so if it promotes bicycling and environmental sustainability, he added.
He also pointed out that the New Haven Bike Collective, which collects discarded bikes around New Haven and repairs them every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., is another great way to promote cycling in New Haven.
“You can fix two bikes and take one home for free,” Hammer said.
Elm City Cycling organizes the Bike to Work breakfast every third Friday of the month, from March through November.