HomeNewsA Victory for Pond Street's "Bicycle Man"

A Victory for Pond Street’s “Bicycle Man”

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Editor’s note: it has been brought to our attention that Mr. Alving is also known as “The Bikeman of Winter Street” to some residents. Readers, choose the headline that best suits you.

On Wednesday, June 29, the Hopkinton Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing to consider the case against Todd Alving, who lives at 166 Winter Street. For more than 20 years Mr. Alving has purchased and refurbished bicycles and sold them from his front lawn, at the intersection of Pond and Winter streets.

The trouble started in April, when Mr. Alving received a Notice to Cease and Desist from the Town citing “several complaints regarding the use of your property“. “Complaints generally involve the display of bicycles at the front of your property for sale,” the letter continued. Alving appealed the decision and requested a hearing.

Neighbors more than one mile away found bags on their mailboxes.

Then last week, residents of Pond, School and Winter streets returning home were met with black bags hanging from their mailboxes. Inside was an anonymous letter that encouraged neighbors to attend the Appeals Board meeting to speak against Mr. Alving and his “illegal eye sore“. “The bicycles on display…create a distraction and are at odds with the nature and character of the neighborhood,” it read. (view the letter)

At the hearing, flanked by Assistant Zoning Enforcement Officer Mike Shepherd, Mr. Alving made his case to the Appeals Board. The pair asked the Appeals Board to allow Alving to continue selling bicycles with certain conditions. 

Board member Michael Riley asked Alving if he would be amenable to suspending selling during the winter months, a concession Alving agreed to. Board Chair John Coutinho shared that he lives in Alving’s neighborhood and had never seen it as a nuisance. 

Alving recently suffered a stroke, making it difficult for him to read and write as he once did. His speech is noticeably slurred and he walks with a limp. He is unable to drive himself or work at his environmental consulting business, where he had been employed for the past 30 years. Reportedly, Mr. Alving uses the funds from bicycle sales to pay his bills and those of his aging mother. 

Several residents – apparently incensed by the flyer campaign, and who stated that they did not know Mr. Alving – showed up to speak in support of his continued operation. 

“I’m a busy mom and I drive by his house multiple times per day. I will say truthfully that his bicycles never bothered me. In fact, a couple of times I’ve enjoyed seeing the same model bike that I rode as a girl for sale. It brought back good memories,” said a woman that lives on Pond Street. 

“Whoever wrote this letter should move to an HOA,” said a neighbor.

“Mr. Alving is a quiet neighbor that keeps to himself and bothers no one. The Board should not interfere with his right to support himself,” said another.

The Appeals Board agreed, and voted unanimously to allow Mr. Alving to continue operating with the condition that he sells only between April 1 and December 31, that he displays no more than 15 bikes at a time, and that they be at least six feet from the public roadway. In light of Mr. Alving’s financial hardship, the Board also voted to waive the appeals hearing fee.

Mr. Alving shook hands with his neighbors as he exited the meeting and thanked them for their support. 


  1. Another new person in town that doesn’t like the way things have always been done and is a coward sending out anonymous notes!

    Great decision for the planning board. I’ll make my way over to Todd’s to buy a bike!!!


  3. This is wonderful. I’ve driven by the bicycles probably over 100 times and I’ve never thought it was an eye sore. It is a part of Hopkinton that’s disappearing. Good for his neighbors showing up. And good for Mr. Alving!

  4. So glad this worked out in his favor.
    I have lived here almost my whole life and don’t ever remember there not being bikes in his yard. Perhaps who ever the anonymous letter writer is should have taken a ride around the neighborhood before purchasing their home….

    • Love the HOA comment!

      I am very happy this turned out well.

      Was the complainant revealed? FWIW, I don’t believe in anonymous complaints, especially those that require action by the town or any other governing body.

  5. I live on the other side, a Hopkinton for the past 50 years, I just happened to drive by there the other day, and saw all the bikes and thought to myself that it actually looked very nice and brought me back to a much simpler time, I am very happy that Mr. Alving could claim victory on this.

  6. I live nearby and stopped one time to tell him what a good deed I thought he was doing for the community.

    He obviously does not do it for monetary reasons but rather a passion and love and I wanted him to know I thought it was commendable.

    I feel so sad that our society is breaking down in such a way that individuals feel compelled to write anonymous “Karen Complaint” letters and not have the decency to stand with conviction behind their degrading words or belittling of others by being a “judge of others”, but rather project your own personal issues by attacking a neighbor for the choices he makes on his front lawn providing bicycles to others in a kind a community supportive way. And hiding behind your anonymity? Is this what Hopkinton is becoming?

    As my grandmother taught me and sure we all know well… “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”.

    I think this community is becoming a melting pot far from its original roots and forever evolving. It’s a good thing and it’s reality.

    I would love to hear more about how we are all supporting each other in this community more and how we are going to collectively care for this beautiful town.

    -my 2 cents after reading this. I didn’t even read the letter. It didn’t deserve my attention.


  7. I’ve ridden my bike by Mr. Alving’s property many, many times & often wondered whether I might trade my bike for one of his. Seriously, it’s an uplifting feeling to see that he restores old bikes and gives someone a chance to enjoy cycling. I’ve never seen it as an eyesore or, in any way, interfering with the roadway.

  8. I love the display of refurbished bikes! I hike, run and cycle around Lake Whitehall routinely (for the last 18++ years) and never once was I offended by the bikes on Mr. Alving’s property. Neighborhoods should not be a compilation of curated, uniform properties. That is what makes this part of Hopkinton unique.

  9. So very sad, it is bad enough he can’t have a regular job but to be make out that he is creating an eyesore makes me sick to my stomach. My father was a bit eccentric if anyone besides my family judged his eyesores I would be appalled. Get a life people or a job you obviously have to much time on your hands.

  10. I find it interesting that people who want to get rid of bicycles to preserve the historical and rural nature of the town never seem to want to get rid of cars, even though bicycles have been around longer and are much less of an imposition.

  11. When my daughter and her kids come to visit me from out of town, my 5 yr old granddaughter always asks her mom to take the “scenic route” which is by Mr Alving’s property…she LOVES to see all the bicycles on display.

  12. Thanks go out from a lifelong resident of Woodville to the people who supported Mr Alving. I ride by there two or three times a week and enjoy seeing all those bikes. When the bikes were gone, I missed them. Good luck to “The Bicycle Man”.

  13. The letter writer pointed out that the number of bikes being sold increased dramatically in 2020. Due to COVID supply chain issues combined with a huge increase in people wanting bikes while under lockdown, there was a major shortage of bikes available from retailers in 2020. Mr Alving was doing a service to the community by providing access to refurbished bikes at that time, as he has done over the past 20+ years. New bikes are expensive and refurbishing and reselling them is better for the environment than having them be discarded. I’ve lived in Hopkinton for 30 years and I like seeing the bikes when I pass by his house. It’s part of what gives Hopkinton its small town character, something that we should be trying to preserve.

  14. We used to live on Pond st very close to him and absolutely loved seeing the bikes on his property. We found it charming and thought it added a sense of nostalgia and character to that beautiful neighborhood. I’m glad he can continue!

  15. Warms my heart that the community came together to support him. I hope the Karen feels even saltier now

  16. Post Covid, when no one could find a bike due to supply issues, we actually bought a refurbished bike for our daughter from Todd. He let us take it home to try out for a bit and then come back to pay him later that week. Nice touch given riding around that Pond/Winter St area is pretty tricky.

  17. Another waste of taxpayer money to even bring this up or hold a special hearing to address this. Common sense people! He’s found a way to make money. I suppose anyone who puts their kids used toys at the end of their driveway with a sign saying “free” is also making an illegal eye sore as well. And someone actually approved a cease and desist???

    How is this an “illegal eye sore”, when the trash and garbage spews and drips out, blows from, or falls out of – and litters all of Elm St to Wood Street from the tractor trailers who barrel down 135 exceeding the speed limit constantly in Woodville, garbage vehicles, and haul away services heading to and from Harvey’s on a daily basis 7 days a week. Every day, not just Monday through Friday.

    Isn’t there an actual litter law? Not to mention speeding. And how often do Harvey clean it up our roads?

    • Mr Alving deserves our support.
    • And whomever brought this to the zoning boards attention should have their taxes raised to pay for the cost of the special hearing and the time wasted by the town.
    • I wonder which exorbitantly over priced McMansion nearby it was, who thinks it impacts the value or their enjoy of their home.

  18. I’ve driven by Mr. Alving’s property many times over the past 20 years and love seeing the refurbished bikes! Great way to save our landfills and the good ole fashioned bikes we all remember riding as kids! It is heartwarming that his neighbors came to the meeting to support him.

  19. We bought a Bike from Mr. Alving a “Real Gentleman” !
    Glad he will be able to keep selling Bikes.

    How many remember when the Boat Landing was on Pond Street?, and they would sell Night Crawlers on
    “Opening Day” when Fishing was not open yearly? Plus the Old Ghost Town? The old Ice Cream, and Fried Sea Food place across from the new Boat Landing? (Cannot Remember it’s Name?) Plus Wheeler’s Country Store?

    The Old Days! Didn’t Know How Good We Had It?

  20. Another wealthy resident tormenting a neighbor without the means to fight back against a nameless coward. I applaud Mr. Alving’s entrepreneurship and restoration services. As a fellow resident, he should be supported, not ridiculed by another nameless, faceless entitled neighbor. I hope his sales go up and up after this free publicity. Karma.
    ~Chris Swezey~

  21. Way to go neighbors! We received and anonymous letter to our mailbox, also on Pond Street, about our kids (6 and under) being too loud outside and shaming us as parents. We know who it was and I’m hoping this is not a new trend— these anonymous letters. We are all doing our best!


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