How easy is it to get to the beach without driving?
Last weekend, I knocked something off my New Haven Bucket List I’ve wanted to do for a long time: I rode my bike to the beach.
Why did it take so long?
Well, mostly cause the idea of riding back from the beach in the sweltering heat with no reward of an ocean to swim in is… somewhat unappealing.
So I typically drive, like some kind of 20th century dummy. Sure, there’s free parking for residents, but even still, nothing makes me feel like a selfish lazy American than driving six miles to a beach in my own city.
Then, the solution hit me like a ton of bricks. It was in front of me this whole time:
But first, the ride out to Lighthouse Park.
The Bike Ride
First up, riding out to Lighthouse Point. It’s about 6 miles from the Green and can be done mostly on not-terrible roads in about 35 minutes. The beginning part involves a left turn onto Forbes Ave from East St which is… slightly horrible, I admit, but after that, it’s not bad.
Here’s the route. (And the actual link.)
Basically, you ride up Chapel St, take a right on East St, trying not to ride over any broken glass/dreams. Next up, you need to take a left on Forbes Ave, acrossing the Quinnipiac River and praying to whatever deity you believe in that you don’t get stuck waiting for the drawbridge.
Next up, the lovely Port Area, where you will discover new and interesting smells. I bet you didn’t even know what a Water Pollution Abatement Facility smelled like! Now you do. And it is… not… great.
Yeah, the scenery is a bit (literal) garbage, but hardly anybody drives there, which is nice.
Next, you’re sailing through East Shore Park, where kids play Little League Baseball and soccer and probably other things.
Once you’re back on the road, you take a right onto Townsend Ave, which takes you straight to Lighthouse Rd, and bam! No waiting in line for you, buddy! You just sail through your bicycle, a hot, sweaty mess.
But you’re about 30 seconds away from locking up your bike and plunging into the probably not polluted Long Island Sound!
(For the record, I think people are silly about this stuff. The EPA tests for stuff and would probably tell us if anything is wrong, right… ?)
It’s a bit tricky if you’re at the beach by yourself. I wouldn’t necessarily bring vast amounts of cash and every credit card you own. Maybe just enough to buy a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich at the snack bar. Which is legitimately a thing you can do. For realsies.
I’ve honestly never had a problem, but your mileage may vary. Then again, I usually pop into the water, hang out for a bit, have a nice pee, and back out again.
Plus, the conversations you overhear at Lighthouse Park are some of the greatest things you’ll ever hear. One year, after a rash of heroin drug dealer busts, I overheard a guy discussing how they could bump up the price because of the decrease supply.
It’s not often you get to hear the direct market forces of supply-side economics of the drug trade at the beach.
Of course, now you’re at the beach, and you’ve got your bike, how are you gonna get home?
It’s simple. It’s easy. And it has air conditioning.
Why didn’t I think of it earlier? Of course the bus makes perfect sense. And I’d seen the elusive G line bus at Lighthouse Park before. How hard could it be to figure it out?
Turns out: Not that hard.
You could check out CT Transit’s newly redesigned website and try to figure out which lines go there, or you can download the free Transit App which tells you which buses are nearby, where they go, how often they run, etc.
I also had never used one of those fancy bike racks on the bus and was a little worried how tricky it might be. After all, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of all the cool, veteran bus riders.
Turns out: Also pretty easy!
In fact, it has instructions right on there. Can I follow simple instructions of “Pull Handle, Lower Rack, Pull Hook, Put Over Tire?”
Yes. Barely. But I did it. It seemed stable-ish.
Next thing you know, I’m riding back downtown along with my fellow denizens, many of whom are making the trip to see En Vogue perform on the Green. Actually, there were a couple of young ladies with posh British accents, even. I’m not surprised. They love the bus over there.
I arrive downtown with my bike and plenty of time to go pick a spot and hear En Vogue tell me I’m Never Gonna Get It, which isn’t a huge surprise, but a mild disappointment, as they still look great.
As a kid growing up in Coventry, it never would’ve occurred to me that I’d ever live in a place where I could easily get to the beach without even driving a car. Heck, many adults I know in New Haven would find the idea ridiculous.
But I did it. And it was fun. And you should do it too.
I’ll see you on the G bus.[FBW]