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Mark Hayward's City Matters: Manchester's bike culture shifts into high gear

Manchester passed a milestone last month when the first bicycle lane appeared in the city, on a five-block stretch of downtown Chestnut Street.

I haven’t seen many bicyclists use it. But it’s a start, and it shows that bicycle culture has shifted into cruising gear in the Queen City.

“People want to be more physically fit, get outdoors and do something fun,” said bicyclist Kevin Gray, a software engineer who could be a poster child for bicycling. “Biking gives you that wind in your face, and a little speed. It gets the adrenaline going.”

Of course, there is a lot of law bending going on when it comes to riding on sidewalks, which is illegal, as well as the lack of bicycle helmets, which are required for anyone under 16.

Already, there are two bicycle organizations in the city. Bike Manchester is an advocacy group that advocates for making Manchester a more bicycle friendly city by installing bicycle racks and the aforementioned bicycle lanes. Manchester Community Bike Ride is a well-mannered bike gang that meets downtown on Friday nights for a citywide bike ride.

All this is because there are more people out plying the city. They bicycle for all different reasons. The accompanying photos offer a rundown on a few of them.

The Bicycle Poster Child

Kevin GrayName: Kevin Gray

Age: 36

Occupation: Engineer, Dyn

Why: Commutes to work, noontime exercise.

Ride: 2012 Cannondale Slice. Lists for $1,300, but bought on clearance for $800.

Accessories: aerobar, which allows rider to ride, brake and change gears in prone position.

Alternative transportation: Ford Explorer.

Favorite routes: West Side to Goffstown, Auburn traffic circle.

Interviewed: in Millyard on the way to work.

Helmet: Always.

Sidewalks: Never. "It's a tough battle to get cars to respect you as a vehicle when you have people riding on the sidewalk."

The Young and the Restless

Adrian HardistyName: Adrian Hardisty

Age: 17

Occupation: High school student

Why: Gets together with five or six friends and their mountain bikes. "We go everywhere. Last night I was riding until 1 a.m."

Ride: A friend's, probably worth $100.

Accessory equipment: Camel pack for hydration. Under-armor thermals. Head lamp.

Alternative transportation: None. (Waiting until he turns 18 to get a driver's license.)

Favorite routes: Bike paths, city streets, woods.

Interviewed: Rite Aid plaza on the West Side.

Helmet: None.

Sidewalks: Sometimes.

BMX over X-Box

Dusty Dubois and Jameson PattersonName: Dusty Dubois and Jameson Patterson

Ages: 24 and 12

Occupation: KFC/babysitter; middle school student

Why: Alternative to sitting around and playing video games. "He's on his summer vacation, so we're going to take a bike ride every morning," Dubois said.

Ride: Dubois: Her boyfriend's mountain bike; Patterson: $100 Mongoose BMX, with foot rests.

Alternative transportation: Ride from mom, walking.

Favorite route: From West Side home to downtown and back.

Interviewed: Pine Street, downtown.

Helmet: "I don't like helmets," Dubois said.

Sidewalks: Always. "If you go on the road, you're probably going to get run over. One hundred percent chance," Patterson said.

Counterculture Pedaler

Craig SchadlerName: Craig Schadler

Age: 65

Occupation: retired writer, artist, landscaper.

Why: "I just love driving a bike. I never feel so free as when I'm riding a bike."

Ride: $250 10-speed Shogun.

Accessories: Backpack for grocery store trip.

Alternative transportation: Hasn't had a license for 30 years.

Interviewed: Pine Street downtown.

Helmet: "I put one on for five minutes and said no way."

Sidewalks: Occasionally. "I'm in and out. Whatever's convenient."

Involuntary Bicyclist

Chrisnel MerardName: Chrisnel Merard

Age: 30

Occupation: Cook at Outback restaurant

Why: He got into an accident with his car a couple weeks ago.

Ride: $500, 24-gear Schwinn. "It's so fast."

Alternative transportation: Toyota Camry.

Favorite route: From Manchester to his job in Bedford.

Interviewed: Lake Avenue.

Helmet: "A helmet is good, but I don't have one."

Sidewalks: Either sidewalk or street. "It depends."

Eager Exerciser

William MittenName: William Mitten

Age: 65

Occupation: Design coordinator. "I'm in a cubicle."

Why: "It keeps the LDL down."

Ride: $200 Schwinn mountain bike. "It's the same kind of bike I had as a kid."

Alternative transportation: Toyota Corolla LE

Favorite route: Rockingham trail.

Interviewed: Prospect Street.

Helmet: "All the time."

Sidewalks: "If no one's on the sidewalk, I might veer onto it for a minute."


Paul BeckwithName: Paul Beckwith

Age: 60

Occupation: retail.

Why: "It's less expensive than driving a car."

Ride: $400 Schwinn mountain/street bike hybrid.

Alternative transportation: Walk, bus, cab, rents a car.

Favorite routes: Massabesic Lake, Crystal Lake, Livingston Park.

Interviewed: Candia Road.

Helmet: "I should, but I don't."

Sidewalks: "Sometimes, if there's gravel in the road or heavy traffic."

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