The month of May will feature nearly 100 different biking activities as part of New Haven’s first Bike Month, organizers announced at a launch party last night.
Although the events will not take place for a couple weeks, Bike Month organizers Caroline Smith ’14 and Karolina Ksiazek ’15 hosted a launch party last night to increase awareness of the upcoming events. Smith and Ksiazek teamed up with the New Haven Department of Transportation and Elm City Cycling — a nonprofit organization that aims to make New Haven more bike-friendly — to create a series of events that would improve New Haven’s biking culture.
“Our mission is, through bike education, maintenance clinics, advocacy and celebration, to motivate more folks from all New Haven neighborhoods to feel comfortable, safe and excited to integrate riding their bikes into their everyday lives,” Smith said.
In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists gave New Haven a Bronze Award for being a cycling-friendly community. One of the recommendations from the league, a nonprofit organization that promotes cycling, was that New Haven declare an official bike month to celebrate cycling, said New Haven Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04.
When community members coincidentally approached the transportation department with that exact interest, city officials were excited to participate in the project, Hausladen said.
After canvassing and talking with residents, the organizers identified the main issues that prevent residents from making cycling a part of their daily lives, Smith said. He noted a lack of access to bikes and knowledge of bike repairs, as well as dangerous streets, as some of the critical issues.
Scheduled events include organized trail rides, bicycle repair clinics and “bike to work breakfasts,” in which riders are invited to a free breakfast and can later commute to work on their bikes.
“It’ll help people be more aware of the bicycle culture, especially those that just moved to town, and it can expose them to the greatness of the New Haven bike community,” said Matthew Feiner, owner of The Devil’s Gear Bike Shop, which is sponsoring Bike Month.
Throughout the month, Feiner will organize the biking breakfasts and provide repair clinics for those who do not know how to fix their bikes.
Although events will cease after one month, organizers are confident that its effects will be long-lasting.
“The question we ask at every meeting with an individual or group is: How can we be sure New Haven Bike Month in May can be a launching pad for what you do? We want to be sure that New Haven Bike Month is catering to as many groups and neighborhoods as possible,” Smith said.
She added that fundraising and publicity for the event has been successful thus far.
Last week, organizers of New Haven Bike Month held an event where community members were invited to help clean up the Mill River Trail in order to ultimately build a bike and pedestrian path. Members of the Yale College Democrats and Conservation Yale both attended the event.
Dems Vice President Jacob Wasserman ’16 said he thinks New Haven Bike Month is a great initiative, and he is impressed with the number of events planned. He added that he hopes it becomes an annual event and that Yalies choose to take part in it.
“One of our primary goals is to create a more active and healthier New Haven community, and New Haven Bike Month is an awesome initiative focused on doing just that,” said Christopher Bowman ’16, co-president of Conservation Yale.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, Connecticut is the 21st most bicycle-friendly state.