On Saturday afternoon, around 30 cyclists met on the New Haven Green to simultaneously bike and dance their way to a party at the Canal Dock Boathouse.
Every month, the New Haven Bike Party hosts a themed bike ride, inviting cyclists from all over the city to dress up and enjoy a leisurely bike ride, accompanied by loud music coming from a speaker in tow. This month’s theme was “All That Glitters,” and dozens of cyclists and their bikes sparkled the whole 10 miles to the afterparty, called “Going for the Gold.” The afterparty was hosted by the League of American Bicyclists to celebrate New Haven’s 2018 “Bicycle Friendly Community” status and the various organizations and individuals that have worked toward making the city a more bike-friendly community.
“It’s a party, that’s the main idea,” said Taylor Holdaway, the organizer of this month’s ride. “It’s a very fun, relaxed atmosphere.”
The New Haven Bike Party was founded in July 2015 by Coby Zeifman, who first experienced the Bike Party phenomenon while living in California and wanted to bring the party with him when he moved to the Elm City. It is open to cyclists of all skill levels, advertising itself as a slow, social ride.
According to their website, the organization’s motto is “Building Community Through Cycling.” Several attendees agreed that the event is more about having fun and community bonding than it is about exercise. Every event has a route that is eight to 10 miles long, and participants enjoy the ride at a slow pace — sometimes stopping for breaks — but always leaving no riders behind.
During warmer times of the year, the New Haven Bike Party meets every second Friday at 8 p.m. During the winter months, the party meets every Saturday at 2:30 p.m., either on the New Haven Green or at Wooster Square.
Zeifman moved to Seattle this past July, but passed the reins to a team of five local bike partiers, including Holdaway, who now design and route each ride. The team hosts a variety of themed events throughout the year. Previous themes include “Nerd Ride,” “Surfs Up,” “Wild West” and “Beware the (R)Ides of March,” when riders donned togas and laurel wreaths.
Michael Twitty, a New Haven resident who found out about the event from Facebook, joined the glittering group this past Saturday for his first bike party.
“I love New Haven, and I’m trying to ride a bike more often, so this seemed like a really fun way to be more active while exploring more parts of the city,” he told the News. “There’s going be an afterparty at the boathouse with good music and good food, so I just thought, ‘Why not?’”
While some riders decided to forgo participating in the theme, most participants and their bikes were decked out in glittering capes, tinsel and sparkling helium balloons.
According to Holdaway, in the summer months, the event attracted around 50 riders for each of their bimonthly events. But despite the November chill, there was still a large turnout this week.
Joe Katz, a New Haven resident who has participated in several rides, came to Saturday’s event to have fun, enjoy the beautiful day and get some exercise.
“I bike to get around, but started coming to [Bike New Haven] events because it’s just so much fun,” he said in an interview with the News. “It’s a great way to meet people, get outside and have a good time.”
Holdaway said that Zeifman founded New Haven Bike Party because he “identified a niche that he thought needed to be filled.” He said that at the time, most group rides occurred on the streets rather than on bike paths, and were therefore geared towards more serious, experienced riders. Holdaway said that New Haven Bike Party is really just about having fun, which is what makes it attractive to both beginners and competitive cyclists alike.
Over the past few years, New Haven has put forth several initiatives to make the Elm City more bike-friendly, including the launch of Bike New Haven this past February, the city’s first bike-share program. Saturday’s “Going For The Gold” party was held to celebrate New Haven’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in promotion, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies, according to the New Haven Bike Party’s Facebook page. The city was named a “Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community” in 2014 by the League of American Bicyclists, joining more than 300 bike-friendly neighborhoods across the country, according to a press release from the league.
The League of American Bicyclists — a nonprofit membership organization which promotes cycling for fun, fitness and transportation through advocacy and education — was founded in 1880.
Caroline Moore | firstname.lastname@example.org .