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?”
Host a Bike to Work Day Station
Celebrate the 60th anniversary of Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 20 by hosting a Refueling Station at your workplace. Join Trailnet in counting 500 cyclists throughout the STL area. We will help promote your station and your business!
How it works:
Recruit co-workers to run the station with you.
Decide what “fuel” you will provide. Beverage and food items may be purchased or donated by partner businesses.
Fill out the online Refueling Station form. Trailnet will arrange for delivery of educational materials to be displayed at your station.
Promote Bike to Work Day at your workplace through flyers, employee newsletters, email, and social media.
If your workplace doesn’t have one already, create a team on ShiftYourCommute.com. Celebrate the benefits of biking throughout National Bike Month by logging your car-free miles (biking, walking and using public transit).
Provide support and encouragement for your co-workers leading up to Bike to Work Day. Some ideas include:
Route mapping – provide links or maps in your company newsletter featuring bike-friendly routes; if you are a regular bike commuter, list your favorite streets, shortcuts, and parks to ride through.
Bike mentors – pair novice cyclists with experienced bike commuters who can accompany them on their first ride to work.
Bike trains – identify meeting locations to “pick up” fellow bike commuters; designate an experienced commuter to lead the group from each spot, ending at your workplace’s refueling station.
On Bike to Work Day, track the number of people who visit your station (don’t forget to count yourself and any colleagues who help run the station), and send your final tally to Taylor March at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, May 23.
Thank your volunteers, pat yourselves on the back, and start thinking of ideas for next year. Share your success through your company’s social media, employee newsletter, and partners. Share the experience with Trailnet and send any photos or quotes to email@example.com.
Keep those wheels rolling through the cold! Bike, walk, or take transit to work and log your miles on shiftyourcommute.com. The program will keep track of your car-free trips, calories burned, and carbon emissions saved. Commuters who log the most car-free miles during the month of February will be entered to win some rad Trailnet gear.
This year also brings the Winter Limbo competition. Those who log biking commutes on the coldest day(s) of the winter will be entered to win a long sleeve jersey from Retro Image Apparel.
Tell your friends and colleagues and help us build a community around active lifestyles!
Like many local professionals, Adrian Stillman makes frequent trips to other cities in the Midwest. Unlike most business travelers, Adrian makes these visits without getting into a car or walking through an airport. His modes of transportation include his bicycle, Metro bus, MetroLink and Amtrak.
In order to get in better shape and to save money, Adrian sold his car five years ago, bought a used bicycle, and began commuting to his office by bike—a twelve-mile round trip. Never a bicyclist before this, he soon decided to extend his car-free travels beyond St. Louis.
Adrian’s most recent trip took him to Milwaukee in early November. Loaded with a change of clothes and his laptop, he left his house at 4:30 a.m., biked a few blocks to catch an express bus to the Brentwood MetroLink station, rolled his bike onto the Metro and arrived at the Amtrak station in plenty of time for his train’s 6:40 a.m. departure. Adrian estimated door-to-door travel time for his trip to Milwaukee at ten hours. A nonstop flight to Milwaukee from St. Louis takes just over an hour. This begs the obvious question: why does he do it?
“I love being able to explore and appreciate the world as I travel,” Adrian said. “Using my bike and transit, I can relax and enjoy the scenery, look at the interesting architecture and hear the music – I can explore the new city in a way that you just can’t in a car.”
Most importantly, Adrian values the way that his travels allow him to “connect with other people by sharing physical and social space with them.”
Trailnet staff member Ginny McDonald accompanied Stillman on the St. Louis leg of his journey and observed Adrian connecting and conversing with everyone from the bus driver, to other early-morning commuters, to the person who sold him his first cup of coffee at the Amtrak station. Other transit commuters shared the value of time spent together rather than being isolated in a car. Two co-workers who knitted during their bus ride described their commute as “much more relaxing than driving and a lot cheaper than therapy.”
Would Stillman recommend this mode of travel to others?
“It’s very empowering to travel like this, especially to new places,” he said. “We are all good at throwing obstacles in front of ourselves that prevent us from doing new things. It is up to us to overcome those obstacles.”
One of the barriers that Adrian encountered on this trip was having to dismantle and box his bike for the train from Chicago to Milwaukee. Amtrak baggage staff helped him with the transfer.
“Those guys were great,” Adrian said. “Any connection is so valuable, even when you have to ask for help and show that you are a little vulnerable. That’s life.”
Adrian also appreciates the importance of Trailnet’s efforts in helping to break down barriers to biking and using transit in our region.
“They are doing some awesome things for our community,” He said. “Don’t keep it a secret – tell a friend!”
The data from our 2015 walk and bike counts is in. Thanks to the 76 volunteers who donated 152 hours of their time to count cyclists and pedestrians throughout the St. Louis Metro region in September. Collecting such extensive data can be a real challenge, and it would not have been possible without them. You’ve helped make Trailnet a resource for advising the city and other organizations on transportation-related decisions. We have summited the data to the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project, which compiles data for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals. We also submit the data to local planning agencies and nonprofits to inform plans for better biking and walking.
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.
Take the September Challenge!
The September Challenge is here! Ride your bike to work, walk, or take public transit and log your car-free miles on Shift Your Commute. This free, web-based program automatically calculates calories burned and carbon emissions saved. Every trip makes a difference – for your health, for the environment, and for regional planning. Trailnet uses data generated from Shift Your Commute to plan projects that improve opportunities for active transportation throughout the region. Prizes will be awarded for individuals and teams who log the most car-free miles during the month of September.
Proudly sponsored by:
Gear up for the September Challenge!
Cool weather and fall colors will be coming soon and with them, the September Challenge. Ride your bike to work, walk, or take public transit and log your car-free miles on Shift Your Commute. This free, web-based program will automatically calculate calories burned and carbon emissions saved. Every trip makes a difference – for your health, for the environment, and for regional planning. Trailnet uses data generated from Shift Your Commute to plan projects that improve opportunities for active transportation throughout the region. Stay tuned for info about prizes awarded for individuals and teams who log the most car-free miles during the month of September.
Proudly sponsored by:
Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts
Trailnet, with support from Great Rivers Greenway, is participating in the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project for the fourth consecutive September. As we continue to collect data each year, we will be able to show changes in bicycling and pedestrian activity. This information is essential for planning and infrastructure projects that will help to make St. Louis a better place to live. With volunteer support last year, we counted over 4,000 bicyclists and pedestrians at 75 locations throughout the St. Louis region.
Want to help with this important project? Click here for details. To sign up, click here.
Volunteers will be eligible to win four Cardinals Tickets! They’re great seats too—in the home field box, section 151, row 10.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-436-1324 ext.131 for more information.