Bicycle Commuting April Newsletter

From: John B.
Sent on: Thursday, April 17, 2008 2:01 PM
Portland Bike Commuting Newsletter
Volume II, Issue 2 - April 2008
Published Irregularly

In This Issue:
  • Our Monthly Meetup: Family Bike Parade!
  • Call for Volunteers
  • Beginner Seminars
  • Meetup Resources
  • Upcoming Calendar Items

<<< Our Monthly Meetup: Family Bike Parade at the Great Maine Bike Swap! >>>

This month's Bike Commuting/Green Streets Meetup is the Family Bike Parade on Sunday, April 27 at 1 PM. We leave from the parking lot of the Sullivan Gym at USM (12 Falmouth Street) at 1 PM and proceed around the Back Bay loop, a distance of 4 miles. Come early and decorate your bike in the playground area! Come even earlier and buy a new (used) bike at the Great Maine Bike Swap, and try it out in the parade!

The Great Maine Bike Swap, a benefit for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, begins at 10 AM for buyers, and goes until 2 PM, but aware that many of the best deals will be gone by Noon! Admission to the Great Maine Bike Swap is $3, with free admission for students at the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine and children 12 or younger. There is a $3 fee to place a bike for sale and a 15 percent commission on all bike sale proceeds. All money raised supports the Bicycle Coalition of Maine's education and safety programs.

<<< Call for Volunteers >>>

We have need of volunteer helpers at several events this month! At Earth Day (Tuesday 4/22) and at the Swap, we will need a few volunteers to help with "valet bike parking". We basically watch peoples' bikes for them, giving them a claim ticket to present when they return. It's easy, and training is provided. If I can get two of you at each event, you need only do 2 hours apiece.

Valet Bike Parking @ Earth Day
Date/Time: Tue Apr 22, 10 AM - 2 PM
Place: Congress Square
Shifts: 1 person 10 AM - Noon, 1 person Noon - 2 PM

Valet Bike Parking @ Great Maine Bike Swap
Date/Time: Sun Apr 27, 10 AM - 2 PM
Place: USM Sullivan Gym, 21 Falmouth Street
Shifts: 1 person 10 AM - Noon, 1 person Noon - 2 PM

The second need is for able cyclists to marshall and ride herd on the Great Family Bike Parade that we and Green Streets are co-hosting, Sunday, April 27th.

Basically we need:

  • Able cyclists who can be at the head of the pack and maintain a steady (and slow-ish) pace so that the hard-core cycling participants don't leave the rest of the parade in the dust;
  • able cyclists who can ride along the street side parade, keeping parade folks to the bike lane and bike path around the Back Cove (and keep them from busting out onto the street)
We'll need to chat with you beforehand about responsibilities and parade order, and get you a fancy bright green armband that makes you stand out.

Please contact me to sign up for any of these volunteer activities, and thank you!

<<< Beginner Seminars >>>

Our first season of monthly beginner seminars will kick off next Wednesday evening April 23rd, with a discussion led by member Russ Erickson on Introduction to Bicycle Commuting. Russ is a seasoned commuter who rides a 12-mile round-trip from Cape Elizabeth to Portland 3-5 days a week. The seminar will be held at the East End Community School at 7 PM. Please see our event page for more links to more information, and a chance to RSVP (helpful for planning).

Our next beginner seminar, on the important topic of Traffic Safety, will be held in May, date and place TBD, and conducted by member Robert Bowker. Bob has been biking to work since the late 70's, and averages about 4,000 miles per year, most of which is commuting.

Need to learn how to change a flat tire? Replace brake pads? Tinker? Be watching the calendar in the next month or so for notices of basic mechanics courses offered by various bike shops around town. They will be added as we learn of them. If you know of any we don't have, please let me know.

<<< Meetup Resources >>>

We've been developing a lot of great resources over the last year, and it's easy even for me to forget what they all are, so I thought it would be worthwhile to summarize them for you:

NEW MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS! I now have available for discounted purchase two extremely useful safety-related items: red blinking taillights, and print copies of John Allen's Bicycle Safety Smarts. These will be available in person at most meetings for the low, low price of $2 apiece. I also have cool bike-related stickers for free!

COMMUTING MAP: We now have over a half dozen commuting routes mapped out on our Commuting Routes Map. (Ken and Mark, I have added yours from before.) This shows where some of us ride. If you have any questions about a route, or would like someone to ride it with you, just ask them using the email addresses provided.

If you are interested in adding to the map, contact me for instructions.

ONLINE INFORMATION: Have you checked out our "About Us" pages recently? It's not just a single page describing us, you know. Besides the starting page, we are now up to an even dozen pages of information on topics in three broad areas:



Other Resources

A noteworthy recent addition to our "About Us" page is the YouTube video produced by GoMaine and Meetup member Erik West on Using the Metro Bus Bike Racks. Using the bus can be an excellent way to extend your range, take you through heavy congestion areas, or provide an emergency ride home when bad weather takes you by surprise.

MESSAGE BOARD: A group of us have enjoyed using the Message Board as a ride journal of sorts throughout the winter, and now, as a new "Spring (MUD SEASON) Commuting Journal". If you have a question for the group, have a meeting idea, announcement, or proposal, or just want to introduce yourself, please make use of our message board. It's a great way to get to know people better between in-person meetings.

<<< Upcoming Calendar Items >>>

Of particular note are the education related classes offered through the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. The Bicycle Safety Instructor Training in South Portland is a "train the trainer" class which will teach you how to teach others bike safety, including children. The BikeEd Road 1 classes in June and July are two opportunities to take the official traffic safety course offered nationwide by the League of American Bicyclists, and taught by LAB-certified instructors. Much of the safety material we teach in this Meetup comes from this course. Highly recommended!

Finally, the ElectroVelo Rally on May 18 is a very interesting event showcasing ultra efficient vehicles, including electric bikes, velomobiles and other human powered vehicles. Member Ethan Davis is a primary exhibitor. More about that next month.

Closing thought: I was in Dick's Sporting Goods recently, talking to the salesman in the bike area, and he said he's seen a lot of people coming in wanting to buy a bike to ride to work. Between gas prices and heightened environmental awareness, especially gas prices, I'm betting we'll see a huge increase in people trying bike commuting this summer. Given how outside the mainstream it still is, whether they continue or not may well depend on the level of support they find for it and how quickly they can become comfortable with it. That is where I think this group can play a role in encouraging them.

So spread the word! In our Files are, there are flyers, business cards, and event cards you can print out to hand out to people. Or just tell people about the site, give them the address, my email, or phone number [masked]). Or just bring them to a meeting!

Ride safe, have fun!

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