Famed Bike Builder Eulogized & Tom Bruni
THX for passing this along Fred. THX to Larry Black, I had seen the
Washington Post report and had posted about this tragedy a couple of
days ago. Tom and I only spoke once but the one hour plus conversation
was all over the map and both of us enjoyed it greatly. And as you
recall, he was a a man so humble that he didn't feel worthy enough to be
the only one seen receiving your Mayor's NBG Day proclamation. indeed
this is sad and I will miss knowing that he is holding the light there
At 8:39 AM -0400 7/15/05, Shoken, Fred wrote:
Thomas J. Bruni, 54, designer and builder of customized bicycles
By Frederick N. Rasmussen
July 15, 2005
For nearly two decades, Thomas J. Bruni quietly designed and built
bicycles in his Hamilton home - innovative mountain, road and tandem
bikes that were highly sought after by riders.
"They were completely unique, fast and beautiful bikes. Tom was a custom
fabricator, who would meet you, measure you, and fabricate out of a few
pounds of steel tubing some of the best bikes on the planet," said Phil
Feldman, who owns three of them. "Bruni Bicycles are a common sight in
Baltimore, and his customer base extended across the country and even to
On Saturday, while riding one of his bikes, Mr. Bruni was injured in a
collision with a minivan at an intersection near Westminster and died at
Carroll Hospital Center. He was 54.
Mr. Bruni who was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., attended City
College of New York during the late 1960s.
"He was such a city boy that he thought that trees grew between the
concrete cracks in the sidewalk," said his wife of 16 years, the former
Therese Spadero, a Baltimore County public school teacher. "He came to
Baltimore on a train with his bicycle in the early 1970s. He knew it was
a good place to come because he liked the small-city aspect that
A master welder, Mr. Bruni held a succession of jobs - among them
building ships at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point yard, teaching
welding and sheet-metal working, and service technician for Electric
Motor Repair Co. He also taught math, physics and electronics at area
community colleges and Anne Arundel County public schools.
In 1990, he went into business for himself with the start of Bruni
"Riding bikes was a lifetime passion. His philosophy was that he wanted
to enjoy riding and not get burned out or obsessive about it. When he
was riding, which was sometimes three times a week, some days he'd go 30
miles and then there were rides of 100 or 150 miles," Mrs. Bruni said.
"His forte was designing and building bikes, and he also loved
trouble-shooting and finding solutions for mechanical and design
problems," she said.
"His belief that he could build the 'better bike' drove him to start
expanding his craft of building his own bikes to help others get more
out of their lives," said Larry Black, a longtime friend and owner of
College Park Bikes and Mount Airy Bikes. "He was never afraid to try new
things or reinvent old ideas to make them better."
Mr. Bruni fashioned his bikes out of British-made steel tubing rather
than the more popular aluminum, carbon fiber or titanium, and they
weighed no more than 17 1/2 to 23 pounds. He patiently catered to every
whim and need of the purchaser.
Every floor in his Sylvan Avenue home seemed to contribute some vital
process in the assembly of the bikes, whose prices ranged from $950 to
$4,500. Articles published on his Web site extol his "suspension
bicycles" that ride smoothly, despite bad road conditions, and even make
railroad tracks "almost cease to exist."
"When he custom-made a bike for you it took several months, and no two
were ever the same," said Debbie Taylor, who has ridden more than 6,000
miles on her Bruni bike. "He was an eccentric and a genius, a real
"He was outspoken, and he'd definitely tell you how it was. He'd
answered the phone, 'Bruni,' and after 30 or 40 seconds, would say, 'I
gotta go. I've got lots of work to do.' And it was always A-plus work,"
said Bobby Phillips, a longtime friend and local bicycle racing legend
known as 'The Baltimore Bullet."
Mr. Bruni was always on hand to lend his bicycle-repair expertise at
races. He also provided engineering expertise for several human-powered,
all-terrain vehicles for the
al-news-obituariesAmerican Visionary Art Museum's annual spring Kinetic
Sculpture Race. One of them included the elaborate and fanciful "Cirque
du Sore Legs" circus train that provided a dramatic rescue in the 2004
race after the pedal-driven engine separated and the cars carrying
costumed riders drifted away off Canton Waterfront Park.
"The 15-mile race is on land, water and in sand, and he certainly raised
the bar for us," said Theresa M. Segreti, the museum's director of
design and education.
"Tom loved bicycles - their efficiency - and the fact they were
affordable transportation for almost anyone, and the absolute joy of
descending a twisty tree-lined road at 40 mph or more," Mr. Feldman said.
"There will be no services because he believed in the Church of the
Spoked Wheel. He'd say that every Sunday when we were out riding, taking
in the countryside," Mrs. Bruni said.
Other survivors include his mother, Celestina Bruni, and a brother,
Steve Bruni, both of Fort Myers, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.
Copyright 2005, http://www.baltimoresun.comThe Baltimore Sun
Fred B. Shoken ** *City Planner II
Baltimore City * *Department of Transportation
417 E. Fayette Street * *Room 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
443-984-1959 (phone) * 410-783-4746 (fax)
54% of New York City households do not own cars
M A R T I N K R I E G : "Awake Again" Author
Bent Since '83, Car Free Since '89, '79 & '86 TransAms********
Coma, Paralysis, Clinical Death Survivor*
Can You Change it with Love?*
N A T I O N A L B I C Y C L E G R E E N W A Y
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