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Today was a wonderfully uneventful day.   Drove to Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op [https://bsbc.co/] in downtown New Haven, CT with one of my children, bought a used bike, replaced a seat post on one of my own used bikes, got three replacement tubes—just in case of unexpected flats on the road.

While US cities are confronting and dealing with such big and difficult issues of racism, inequities, police brutality, looting and more, all is calm on Bradley Street.   It is a rather uneventful, wonderful day.  Outside the old brick building with a huge open garage, people of all ages from all walks of life wait for John Martin and his team to repair bikes, sell used bikes, or (during non-Corona times) lend tools and teach bike repair. 

As the website notes, “The Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op is a community bike shop working towards an equitable New Haven by getting people on bikes…We are a community learning with our hands, laughing with strangers, and building a better world together…We make decisions based on principles and beliefs, not based on what makes us more money. We take care of each other and love meeting new friends. We always show up; to the shop, to events, to things that mean something to one another.”

Not yet a believer as to why every city in the world needs half a dozen Bradley Street Bicycle Co-ops?  Read on:

Why We Exist

A healthy city is diverse, equal, and sustainable. Healthy cities do not happen naturally; we all must take part in building and maintaining its physical, social, and cultural fabric.

New Haven is incredibly diverse, vibrant, and passionate. But it also has deep obstacles to overcome. Our neighborhoods are divided, the gap between the rich and the poor is one of the highest in the United States, and we don’t spend enough time with people who are different than us. This is not a problem for just some of us, this is a pain that affects us all. But as we see ripples of segregation affect our communities, we also see ways to make it better.

Our answer is not ‘bikes will save the world’; building healthy cities is about much more than physical objects. But bikes can serve as a tool and a platform for change. The mission of the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op is broad: we focus on the problem and the person while forging a better path forward. We need to give more to those who have less and we need to spend more time with each other. We built the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op to do this.

Why bikes? In New Haven, lack of quality transportation is rated as the highest problem people face when accessing the job market. Owning a car is expensive, our public transportation system is unreliable, and walking is often too slow or not an option. Bikes provide a low-cost, highly efficient way of moving through the city. Bikes vastly improve job access to those without cars. They are cheap to acquire and maintain. They increase physical exercise, they keep our environment clean, and through their maintenance and upkeep they provide a platform for coming together. And they are fun! The more people we can get on bikes, especially those with need, the more we can gain job access and reduce income inequality.

Why spend more time together? Every time we run Shop Hours and work together to get more bikes back in the streets in a diverse and inclusive space, the less divided and more healthy our city becomes. By hanging out, making new friends, and working together to fix bikes, the Bradley Street Bicycle Co-op helps us listen to each other, give out more trust, and love New Haven.

I love bikes, bike stores, and bike gadgets.  I have visited bike stores in other cities, states and countries.  There is NOTHING like schmoozing with bike lovers with good values and kind hearts—all while searching in used parts bins for an old bike bell, a used seat and reflectors.  See you at Bradley Street Co-op!





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Music has helped so many of us get through these tough few months.  For example, tomorrow is day 70 for Red Sox organist, Josh Kantor, who goes on Facebook Live for “7th Inning Stretch at 3 pm seven days a week for a half hour (or more!) each day ( https://www.facebook.com/7thinningstretch2020/) to play famous tunes on his organ and to raise money for local food banks (http://feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank).  He and his wife, Reverenced Producer Mary, are determined to keep this going every day until the baseball season resumes.

Singer Ben Folds, stuck in Sydney, Australia during the pandemic, sits at an organ and plays songs and tells stories on “Saturday Apartment Requests with Ben Folds.” Here is a link to #6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULe4yus47c0

Saturday nights are also reserved for Dead and Co’s “One More Saturday Night,” each Saturday night at 8 pm (here is a link to an awesome show from Citified in NY, 6/23/19): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktDsE09W2Rk)

There is no shortage of great music.  I look forward to my daily email from Relix Magazine reminding me of the day’s shows:   Weir and Wolf Brothers Wednesdays (with conflicts with Dave Matthews Band each Wednesday), Phish’s Dinner and a Movie each Tuesday, and more.  Today’s email from Relix simply said, “June 2, 2020:  #TheShowMustBePaused.”

According to a letter posted on https://www.theshowmustbepaused.com/, two Atlantic Records music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, are spearheading an initiative known as “Blackout Tuesday” in reaction to what they describe as “the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”

The Show Must Be Paused is a play on the well-known phrase which encourages perseverance, “The Show Must Go On.”  Let’s pray it is not “The Day The Music Died,” a reference to the infamous day, February 3, 1959, when musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson, and well as pilot Roger Peterson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. 

Music has the ability to unite and heal—looking forward to the return of music tomorrow.

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I used to check the ESPN App several times a day—just to get an overview of what is happening in the baseball, football, hockey, and basketball worlds.   For tennis, I regularly checked both the APT/WTA Live App, and Resultina, to find out pro scores in real time.  Resultina even allows tracking of a particular player, from top ten to known to all but diehards.  All of that checking has changed in the past few months—due to Covid-19 and the suspension of nearly all sporting events.  There is simply very little of importance happening in the sports world these days.

Yesterday, Sunday, a day which would have been packed in pre-Covid-19 days with major sports plus golf, featured the following ESPN stories:

“MLB is staring down a disaster that could last beyond 2020”

“Bundesliga players support Floyd following goals”

“Spurs’ Walker helps city clean up after protests”

The other stories listed in the ESPN were more of the same. The only actual sports “score” was of the NASCAR Supermarket Heroes 500 from Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway (in progress, with Elliot ahead of Blaney). The ATP/WTA app didn’t list a single match happening any time soon.  Resultina mentioned a match from last Monday May 25, the CTS President’s Trophy Prague, Czech Republic, where Kvitova d. Muchova, 6-3, 6-3.  My own tennis partner swears he still watches tennis regularly on the Tennis Channel, with umpires wearing masks and players literally getting their own balls! 

In short, very little positive to report in the sports world.

For that reason, I was delighted to receive the recent (May 28th) ITF (International Tennis Federation) Newsletter, featuring interviews with “stars from across the world of wheelchair tennis.”  This month’s UNIQLO interview looks at the positive impact that the BNP Paribas World Team Cup has had on the sport of wheelchair tennis.

I was lucky enough to discover wheelchair tennis at the 2011 US Open—where I discovered that one of the top players at the time was Israel’s Noam Gershony (here is my Jerusalem Post article:  https://howardblas.com/2011/09/05/gershony-rolls-closer-to-paralympics-with-us-open-win/).  I have been following the sport ever since.  Here is another article I wrote in 2013: https://howardblas.com/2013/09/17/take-a-seat-courtside-at-the-u-s-open-wheelchair-tennis-competition/

Wheelchair tennis players are extraordinary athletes and competitors.  Rules for the sport are essentially the same as for more traditional singles or doubles. Perhaps the main difference other than the use of specialized chairs is the permissibility of two bounces—though many players chase down the ball on once bounce. Another big difference between wheelchair tennis and any other sport is that the sport boasts the longest winning streak in by far—held by Esther Vergeer—she ended her illustrious career in 2013 with a winning streak of 470 matches! 

Check out the sport when it is back in action.  One day soon, we will get to see singles and doubles, and also team tennis.   Since it started back in 1985, the World Team Cup has given wheelchair tennis players an opportunity to show off national pride by representing their countries. 






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Last May, as part of the amazing Access Israel conference, I got to “test” just how accessible the Old City of Jerusalem really is.  Many conference attendees got off tour buses with lifts and traveled through the gates of the Old City, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and on to the Western Wall.  What an emotional moment seeing friends in wheelchairs wheeling themselves to Judaism’s most holy place!   We were using the new Accessible JLM app.  https://apps.apple.com/il/app/accessible-roads-jerusalem/id1434672106

I knew the app and various informative articles (i.e. https://www.israel21c.org/jerusalems-old-city-now-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities/) said that Jerusalem was accessible. It wasn’t until I spent the day walking around the Old City with my new German journalist friend, Werner, wearing gloves and operating his wheelchair, that I learned that it is indeed accessible. 

Imagine my excitement when we attended a “speed dating” event, hosted by Google Israel, leading up to the conference.  The evening was a chance for each participant to quickly sample accessible apps and technologies.   Three conference participants were commissioners on disabilities from major cities—New York, Chicago and New York—two were full time wheelchair users.   It would only be a matter of time—we all hoped—when the world—beyond the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—would become more accessible.

Fast forward one year.  On May 21st, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google announced that Google Maps will now show places that are wheelchair accessible, and users will be able to find such places effortlessly without taking any extra steps. All they have to do is turn on the “Accessible Places” feature in their settings. (see coverage:  https://assistivetechnologyblog.com/2020/05/google-maps-will-now-show-wheelchair-accessible-places.htmlhttps://www.searchenginejournal.com/new-google-maps-feature-highlights-wheelchair-accessible-places/370054/#close).  

Thank you, Google.  The world has been needing this map for a long time.  Now, people in wheelchairs, strollers, motorized scooters—and the rest of the world—will get around just a bit easier!





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