For ten years, Harold Karabell has led bicycle tours that highlight St. Louis’ unique neighborhoods and interesting inhabitants, both living and deceased. Riders on his tours have pedaled their way through Calvary and Bellefontaine cemeteries, LaSalle Park and Soulard, Old North and “North of Old North” (Hyde Park, College Hill, and O’Fallon Park), exploring the history and architecture of these fascinating parts of St. Louis. He recently led Trailnet’s Literary Tour, winding through the Central West End, Academy, and Fountain Park neighborhoods, regaling riders with the life stories of local writers such as Tennessee Williams, T.S. Eliot, and Kate Chopin while reading selections from their works. Of all of the tours that he leads, Harold lists the cemetery and literary tours as the most popular, though he himself plays no favorites.
“People seem truly fascinated by well-known authors and tombstones,” Harold says.
Harold is also a dedicated bike commuter, using his bicycle as his principal mode of transportation, a lifestyle that he concedes is a relatively new phenomenon.
“Forty-five years ago, I didn’t know a single adult bicycle commuter,” Harold says. “You would see children on bikes using them for fun and recreation, but seeing an adult bike commuter was even more unusual than dining with a vegan. My wife and I used our bikes much of the time when we became parents and were able to serve as a model of alternative transportation for the next generation. Now bikes are accepted as a legitimate and even preferred form of transportation for increasing numbers of people. We’re not marginal any longer, we’re almost mainstream.”
Harold believes that this shift came about in part because of people’s concerns about our energy dependence and related environmental issues, such as global warming.
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by some of the big environmental problems that we face. Riding a bicycle is the single most important thing that an individual can do to make a real contribution and feel good about yourself.”
A long-time resident of the Central West End, Harold feels fortunate to live in a “self-sufficient and sustainable neighborhood.” He describes St. Louis City as “a bike commuter’s paradise – it’s very easy for an educated cyclist to get anywhere they need to go in the city.”
Harold also sees Trailnet as an important agent for change in transportation habits.
“As the pre-eminent bicycle enthusiasm organization in the region, Trailnet builds a constituency of bicyclists and pedestrians and helps move alternative forms of transportation from the margins to the mainstream,” he says.
Going forward, Harold believes Trailnet’s most important focus should be education.
“One can learn, as I have, to ride safely and successfully anywhere in the absence of separate infrastructure, simply by taking one’s place on the road as part of the normal flow of traffic,” Harold said. “Nonetheless, we’re seeing more and better infrastructure each year. The best local example is the City’s protected bike lane on Chestnut Street, a considerable step forward compared to St. Louis’ older door-zone bike lanes. But even the best-designed infrastructure contains not-so-obvious dangers and won’t automatically prevent conflicts between bicyclists and other users of the road. Cyclists need to educate ourselves not to run red lights, not to ride in the door zone, not to be victims of the ‘right hook’ at an intersection, not to be nighttime ninjas, and not to ignore the risks inherent in riding even in state-of-the-art separate facilities.”
Whether commuters or recreational riders, people have many reasons for riding a bike – they might do so to lose weight, to save money at the gas pump, or to do their part for the environment. Harold agrees with his long-time friend Paul McFarlane from the former St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation (which became part of Trailnet in 2011), who sums it up this way: “The bicycle is the answer to every question.”
For Harold, the most important motivation for riding a bicycle is that it’s simply the most pleasurable way to travel.
“If it weren’t just joyful to get on a bike, most of us wouldn’t do it in the first place,” he says. “Being on a bike opens up the sights and sounds of the city in a way that no other vehicle can. Not being confined inside a car allows you to see your neighborhood in a new and exciting way, to hear the birds, to discover that very large part of the world that remains unknown and unknowable when speeding along in a car.”
In that spirit, Harold says, “Nothing makes me happier than to be on my bike heading toward a dinner date with a good veggie burger. Forty-five years ago, who would have imagined that such a thing would be possible for so many of us on an everyday basis?”
League Cycling Instructors Certified at Trailnet
Among the many ways that the League of American Bicyclists advocates for bike safety is their training of League Cycling Instructors. These instructors are certified to teach Smart Cycling classes to both children and adults, with the goal of helping people feel more secure on their bikes, and to ensure that bicyclists know how to ride safely and legally.
In mid-October, Trailnet hosted League Cycling coach Preston Tyree and twelve candidates at a League Cycling Instructor Seminar. The seminar provided three days of intensive training that included both classroom instruction and on-bike skills development. All of the candidates were experienced bicyclists. The seminar provided them with techniques that they will use to share their knowledge with less-seasoned bicyclists. Most of the seminar participants were St. Louis residents, and it is Trailnet’s hope that these instructors will provide grassroots instruction in their communities to help bicyclists improve their skills and confidence levels.
All of the seminar participants were evaluated by Coach Tyree and local League Cycling Instructors. Each participant made several classroom presentations, and was also evaluated for their competence at performing on-bike handling skills and safely negotiating traffic.
Candidates plan on using their certification in a variety of ways. Some wanted to become certified in order to help their communities or workplaces to attain Bicycle Friendly status. Some were already working with youth or adults and hope to broaden their capacity to help other bicyclists. All of the candidates shared a passion for bicycling and a desire to spread their enthusiasm.
Trailnet thanks Kaemmerlen Electric for providing us with a parking lot on which to practice bike handling skills, Papa John’s for donation of pizza, and The Fountain on Locust for welcoming twenty hungry cyclists with indoor bike parking and a fantastic lunch. Special thanks to Great Rivers Greenway for funding the seminar and to Ariell Heacox and Preston Tyree of The Bike League for their support and excellent coaching. Finally, congratulations to all twelve of the candidates who successfully completed their certification. We appreciate your hard work and dedication and know that you will be valuable resources for other bicyclists in your communities.
Spokes for Folks in Pagedale
The community arts space known as “The Pink House” really is pink and is a hive of activity welcoming Pagedale residents of all ages to participate in a variety of activities. On five recent Friday evenings, it became the site of a Trailnet Spokes for Folks class. On each of those nights, bike parts and tools, air pumps and tubes could be found sprinkled on the lawn of the little house as fourteen class members learned about the anatomy of a bike, how to make basic repairs, rules of the road for bicyclists, and strategies for safely navigating city streets.
By successfully completing the class, each student received a brand new bicycle from the Ferguson Bicycle Shop, individually-fitted and with life-time free tune-ups courtesy of owner Gerry Noll. Participants also received a properly-fitted helmet, a bike lock, tools and patch kit, and front and rear blinking lights.
The new bicycles arrived on Friday, August 7, and most of the students hopped on and took a spin on the St. Vincent Greenway with a Trailnet instructor. Two novice cyclists stayed back with a Trailnet staff member and veteran resident cyclist Curtis Lomax, who helped the newcomers get a feel for rolling on two wheels.
Curtis Lomax is “looking forward to more adventures with Trailnet!”
When asked what plans they had for using their new bikes, participants, who ranged in age from 13 to 64, gave a variety of responses: “I want to bike with my kids, and use it to go to the grocery store – it will be more fun than taking the bus.” “I don’t have a car and I don’t see myself getting one soon. I’ll be going to college next year and can use it to ride to class.” “I need it to motivate me to move my body.” All of the new bike owners clearly look forward to the benefits of bicycling as a means of transportation, as a way of increasing fitness, and a source of sharing fun with friends and family. Participant Leonard Dixon summed it all up with his comment “Ride to live; live to ride!”
Trailnet thanks all of the “Spokes” folks for their enthusiastic participation and wishes them many miles of safe and fun riding. Thanks also to Gerry Noll of the Ferguson Bicycle Shop for custom fitting the bikes and to Gina Martinez, Director of the Pink House, for her weekly warm welcome. Trailnet’s adult bike education programs are funded by Beyond Housing, the Trio Foundation, and Cardinals Care. For information about the September 19 Spokes for Folks class, contact Taylor March at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Trailnet’s bicycle education programs, click here.
Trailnet to offer League of American Bicyclists Instructor Seminar
The League of American Bicyclists is a national organization that advocates for bicyclists in a variety of ways. To further their work, they offer training seminars that certify individuals as League Cycling Instructors (LCIs). If you would like to learn more about Missouri bicycle laws, basic bike maintenance, and safe riding skills, this seminar can help to improve your own biking experience, and more importantly, make you a valuable resource for other bicyclists. Trailnet is hosting a League Cycling Instructor seminar on October 16-18. After completing this training and receiving your LCI certification, you will be eligible to teach bike education classes in your community. Click here for details about the seminar. E-mail or call Ginny McDonald at email@example.com or 314-436-1324 ext.131 for more information.
Spring Earn A Bike Class
Richard Palk will use his new wheels to commute to work in downtown St. Louis
The Pink House, a Community Arts Space in Pagedale, was the site of our most recent Earn a Bike class. Six students, ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-nine, met on Friday evenings from March 20th through April 10th. During the five week program, they learned about bike tools and clothing, basic maintenance and Missouri bicycle laws. Students gained practical experience in shifting gears, using their brakes properly and riding safely and confidently on city streets. By going through the program, each student earned a brand new bicycle from the Ferguson Bicycle Shop, individually-fitted and with life-time free tune-ups. Students also received a lock, helmet, and a blinking rear light.
Prior to taking the class, all of the students relied upon public transit or walking to get where they needed to go. Three of the six students will be using their bicycles to get to school; the other three class members will be using their bicycles to commute to their jobs.
On the last evening of class, students and instructors rode on neighborhood streets to the St. Vincent Greenway, a great place to celebrate their new wheels. On the night he received his bicycle, class participant Jay Mitchell rode his bike from Pagedale through downtown to the riverfront and back. He said he was having such a great time that he completely lost track of time, and before he knew it the sun was starting to rise.
Pink House Director, Gina Martinez, reports that she often sees Earn a Bike graduates pass by on their bikes en route to work or school.Trailnet thanks all of the students for their enthusiastic participation and wishes them many miles of safe and fun riding. Thanks also to Gerry Noll of the Ferguson Bike Shop for custom fitting the bikes. Trailnet’s bike education programs are funded byBeyond Housing and the Trio Foundation. For more information about Trailnet’s bicycle education programs and upcoming class offerings, click here.
Would you like to feel more comfortable riding your bicycle on city streets? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint by commuting by bike? Trailnet can help build your confidence by teaching you practical skills that make biking easier.
We will offer monthly Bike Smart classes the 4th Tuesday of each month from April through September. The classes will take place in Ritz Park on South Grand from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
The cost for each class is $10 and scholarships are available. For information, contact Cassie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 314.436.1324 ext. 117
Despite the stormy weather, 37 people came out to learn about gender equity, biking, and walking. Atomic Cowboy created a warm and inviting space for us, with snacks and beer abound to offer reprieve from the chilly rain.
Trailnet’s TravelGreen Coordinator Molly Pearson opened the evening by discussing findings by the League of American Bicyclists’ Women Bike initiative, focusing on the Five Cs – Comfort, Convenience, Consumer Products, Confidence, and Community.
Urban designer Courtney Cushard discussed her expanding women’s group The Monthly Cycle. Faye Paige Edwards of GirlTrek addressed access to physical activity among women of color. Lastly, educator Leah Patriarco examined how street harassment affects if/how/when women choose to bike, walk, or take public transit.
Check out the slides below! Want to know more, or be put in touch with one of the presenters? Email Molly Pearson at email@example.com.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a FUN women’s cycling event, check out The Diva Cup, hosted by The Monthly Cycle. Get your ticket now!
THANK YOU to all who came out for Arch Women: A Pedal-Powered Movement! Stay tuned for more to come.
Salvation Army Earn-a-Bike Class
Last Thursday evening, seven graduates of Trailnet’s Earn-a-Bike class hopped on their brand new bikes and took to the streets around Benton Park. For several of the novice cyclists, this was their first opportunity to utilize their signaling, scanning, and lane positioning skills. All completed the ride with flying colors.
The Earn-a-Bike class met for four sessions at the Salvation Army on Arsenal and was taught by Trailnet’s Rachel Sleeman, assisted by Ginny McDonald. Participants in the class learned about bike parts and tools, how to remove wheels and fix a flat, and how to load a bicycle onto a Metro St. Louis bus rack. The course also covered Missouri traffic law that pertains to cyclists, clothing and accessories that make biking more comfortable, and techniques for carrying groceries and gear for commuting by bike. Students were individually fitted for their bicycles and helmets, and each received a lock to secure their new bicycle.
The participants, who ranged in age from sixteen to sixty, came to the class with varying levels of experience and with different expectations for how they would use their bicycle. Kieth Miles was a big help to the instructors, having used a bike for many years for transportation, and already handy with tools and techniques of basic maintenance. GiGi, who is also a veteran cyclist, plans on using her bicycle for grocery shopping and errands. Both commented that they could get to most of their normal destinations more quickly on a bicycle than by car and that it was also a healthier way to travel.
Trailnet offers a variety of bike education programs, ranging from half-day Bike Smart classes that familiarize participants with bike handling and safe riding practices, to multi-session Earn-2-Bikes classes. Earn-2-Bikes participants learn about bike maintenance, how to ride safely, and leave the class with a brand new bike of their own. The most recent Earn-2-Bikes class was held on Saturday mornings at the Pink House in Pagedale. The class began with eight participants, ranging in age from fifteen to fifty-four; over the course of the four sessions, many other community members stopped in, eager to see what was happening in the classes. Taught by Trailnet’s Rachel Sleeman, the class began with an introduction to the parts of a bicycle and the proper use of basic bike tools. Thanks to this session, students learned bike maintenance skills (like how to change a flat tire) and also how to communicate problems to a professional bike mechanic.
Trailnet’s bicycle education programs emphasize bike safety and encourage the use of a bike as a mode of transportation. The Pink House participants became familiar with Missouri traffic laws that apply to cyclists, and learned techniques and skills essential for riding safely on roads. The classes also covered information useful for bike commuters, and gear and clothing that help to make bike commuting easier and more comfortable. The course also covered ways to combine cycling and public transit to get around town more easily.
Students received their own multitools and patch kits and were all individually fitted with a new bicycle helmet. On the last session of the class, each participant received a new bicycle and bike lock, purchased from the Ferguson Bicycle Shop. Gerry Noll, the owner of the shop, stopped by to meet the participants, confirmed measurements to make sure that all of the bikes fit properly, and explained the free tune-ups that he provides for bikes purchased from the shop.
Mr. Curtis Lomax, one of the class participants, has been supportive of the Pink House since it opened in 2011. In talking with Pink House’s Regina Martinez, Mr. Lomax described the Earn-2-Bikes class as “Amazing…I thought we would get used bikes. But they were brand new, measured to fit.”
For more information about Trailnet’s bicycle education programs and upcoming class offerings, click here.
Re-cap of June 5 Bike Smart class at the Salvation Army on Arsenal
Three enthusiastic cyclists participated in Trailnet’s Bike Smart class at the Salvation Army on June 5. The class was led by two League of American Bicyclists certified instructors. Topics covered included helmet and bike fitting, basic bike maintenance, and Missouri traffic law that applies to cyclists. Drills that covered effective starting, braking, shifting, and bike handling were followed by a ride to nearby Benton Park.
If you want to feel more confident riding on the road, learn more about how your bike works, and use your bike more and your car less, join us for one of our classes at the Salvation Army, 2740 Arsenal. They are FREE and open to all – every Thursday in June from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Go to https://trailnet.org/calendar/trailnet-bike-smart-class-3-2014-06-12/ for more information and to sign up.