Dot’s becoming cyclist’s Nirvana

It’s a good thing that May is Bike Month and this isn’t Bike Week here in Boston. The middle of this month has been a soggy affair and may not be the ideal time for novice two-wheelers to take to the streets.

But, fortunately, there are many events yet to come this month and plenty of chances for enthusiasts and newcomers alike to network with the neighborhood’s emerging legion of bicyclists. Much of the activity is centered around Peabody Square’s newest bike shop, Ashmont Cycles, which is fast becoming a hub for the bicycling community.

The store has teamed up with Dot Bike — the online community of bicyclists that has become the leading advocacy and organizing forum locally— to sponsor “commuter breakfasts” for those who ride daily into the city. The group boasts about 15 core members, but has contacts with hundreds more who have helped the organization build momentum for bike-friendly road improvements, including dedicated bicycle lanes on Talbot Avenue and Columbia Road.

Tomorrow, dozens of experienced commuters will lead a convoy of bicyclists from the plaza in front of Ashmont Cycles to City Hall Plaza. The convoy departs at 7 a.m. from Peabody Square — or folks can join the group from Fields Corner about ten minutes later.

The weather should be even better for another great opportunity on Saturday: Dot Bike, Boston Cyclists Union, and Boston Natural Areas Network are joining forces for an “exploration ride” to consider options for linking the Neponset Greenway to the Harbor Walk on Columbia Point. This stretch of coastal trail is a “missing link” that needs a viable solution to ensure the safety of the increasing volume of bike riders. If you’re interested, show up at Pope John Paul II Park at 2 p.m. with your bike and helmet.

Use targeted approach on area ‘trouble-spots’

In the immediate aftermath of the broad-daylight shooting death of 19-year-old Derek Matulina earlier this month, much energy has been expended on examining one multi-family house on Savin Hill Avenue that some thought was connected to the crime. In fact, police statements indicate that neither the house — nor its occupants — were connected to the homicide, for which Nhu Nguyen of Dorchester has been charged.

Still, there is broad consensus that properties such as the one on Savin Hill Avenue have become havens for trouble-makers— and police data back that up.

Elected officials are poised to create new initiatives to address them. In doing so, however, they hardly need to re-invent the wheel. One model that deserves consideration is a multi-agency task force organized by the Menino administration that targeted specific properties in the 1990s. The Top Ten Most Wanted Drug House program streamlined city, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies around cracking down on known drug dens. The properties were then seized, often using tools such as delinquent tax bills, renovated, and re-sold to owner-occpuants. The ‘Top Ten’ program is no longer active, but its something that should be retrofitted and redeployed to tackle the worst offenders in our communities.

– BF