Springfield Wednesday Rides kicks off (There’s a river here!) [Updated x2]

Last week, James, Marcos, and I did a test ride (route map below) for a new movement: WEDNESDAY RIDES. What’s the point?:

  • Get in shape
  • Create safe spaces
  • Promote alternative transportation
  • Get to know different neighborhoods
  • Network
  • Raise eyebrows
  • Have fun!

Every Wednesday at noon (at least through August) we’ll gather at the Springfield YMCA on Chestnut Street and have a casual group ride through a different neighborhood each week. All are welcome. You will have aceess to the Y’s locker room. Bring a helmet.

Many people have said, “Sounds awesome, now I need to get a bike!” Let me know if you’re in that boat. The Y will negotiate discounts with a local bike shop if we have enough people. You can also check Craig’s List or the only bike shop with a Springfield address.

Coincidentally, the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council just started weekly rides, too. Check out Ciclovía, Thursdays at 4:30PM.

Update: According to The Intruder, guided walks along the river began on June 30th. These walks also take place on Wednesdays, at 12:15. (Thanks, Sheila!)

Update 2: Here are some bilingual materials about the Holyoke bike movement from tonight’s Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council meeting (below, click to enlarge). For more info: Liz Budd, lbudd@holyokeymca.org, 413-437-0864.

Check out my wheels [UPDATED]

Next week is Pioneer Valley Bike Commute Week. I’m planning on bringing my bike to the office (by car, I’m afraid), and riding to meetings. Do the same and we can compare rides (mine’s pretty junky, actually). I’m encouraging my colleagues on the Mass in Motion Springfield Wellness Leadership Council to do the same. There are a few different small events planned for Springfield and Holyoke, including:

  • Holyoke: Commuter Breakfast: 7-9am at Highland Bike and Hardware, 917 Hampden St.
  • Springfield: Shower with Helmet and Corporate ID: 5:30am-9:30pm at the YMCA, 275 Chestnut Street. [Anybody know what’s up with the corporate ID requirement?]

If you’re nervous about riding around Springfield (understandable), don’t despair: There’s new federal (DOT) legislation requiring accommodations for bike and foot traffic.

UPDATE: Steve Miller from Livable Streets Alliance and Harvard School of Public Health will be presenting to the Live Well Springfield Coalition on May 25th, 9-11 AM, at the Springfield Public Library. All are welcome.

Environmental justice/land use photo-tour of Springfield at WNEC Law School [Updated x2]

Yesterday I talked about environmental justice and land use with Ben Rajotte’s students at Western New England College School of Law. Van Jones (Obama’s exiled green jobs czar) set the stage with this excellent video (below). And I followed up with a guided photo-tour of Springfield’s most dramatic built environment equity issues (environmental justice tourism!). Download the slideshow here (PDF, 11.5 MB).

UPDATE: My friend Bill Childs (see his WNEC “Blawg” here) alerted me that the commercial activity around the Basketball Hall of Fame is not all national chains. Onyx is owned by two local guys (WARNING: annoying music!), one of whom is a WNEC alum. And Max’s is a regional chain.

UPDATE: Relatedly, today’s NY Times piece, “Slumbering Pittsburgh neighborhood reawakens,” is about the revival of a Pittsburgh neighborhood (East Liberty). The article refers to a “community plan” that called for “attracting shoppers to a broader range of businesses than the aging mom-and-pop stores that remained, reviving the street grid, and creating jobs and better housing.” Big boxes are never neighborhood upgrades, but I couldn’t help but consider the possibilities of attracting national chains but requiring that they are scaled appropriately, located downtown, and pedestrian-friendly.

Mason Square youth discuss health, violence, race, public schools, higher ed, technology, and more

IMG_3690About thirty young people gathered yesterday to share their perspectives on Springfield with Elizabeth Clay, Director of the Governor’s office for Commonwealth Corps and Grassroots Governance. These highlights from the discussion (video below) give you a sense of their personalities and priorities. You can also see some tidbits from the conversation on the Governor’s civic engagement blog, and at the end of this story in The Republican. The stories of young people often get told on their behalf–and in unflattering ways. Seeing them speak for themselves makes all the difference. More details about the event here.