Friday, May 2, 2014

Kicking Off Bike Month Right

Yesterday I commuted across Lexington mid-day for a meeting.  I missed taking a direct route to D7 due to an aversion to looking at my smarty-smart phone in traffic.  I rode ten miles to my meeting but shaved off over a mile on the return.

I've finally figured out the quick and easy way west from the office and it's opened up a lot of possibilities for me.  It's also exposed some of Lexington's lifestyle disparities.

Last week on NPR there was an interview with a local Habitat for Humanity representative.  There was a long discussion about homelessness in the region and one commentator mentioned that you don't think of Lexington having a big homeless population because they're not visible like in other cities.  My ride today proved the man wrong because I saw plenty of homeless people.  I just wasn't on the roads where people like myself (and presumably the interviewee on NPR) typically go.

I saw the homeless population near the YMCA at the southern termini of the Legacy Trail which is also near the old Eastern State Hospital.  I also rode through a low income and perhaps high crime neighborhood on my trek across town.  

Near the Legacy Trail on Loudon
Taken a couple weeks ago
Finally, to get to and from the office I have discovered a shortcut through a semi-gated community.  The reality is I'm probably not welcomed to ride my bike through the neighborhood but no one is actively turning cyclists away at either end of the development so I take my transportational liberties.  I have a rock solid counter if I were to be challenged: "I'm a guest of the Underhills!"

The private community is quite posh and upscale with architect-designed custom homes, a servant class migrating in daily to maintain the illusion of empire, and is quite beautiful despite its spiritual squalor.  It's the extreme end of the socioeconomic spectrum from the other end of the route I rode today.

I saw other cyclists.  I passed a guy riding in the bike lane on Richmond Road inbound.  I passed an older lady on the Legacy Trail.  Motorists were mostly nice.  The weather was cool, chill actually, and I felt solid despite the constant wind as I rode .

Cyclist using bike lanes on Richmond Road

So far in May I've averaged 18.7 miles per day.  That's a pretty good start for my Bike Lexington commuter challenge and national bike challenge results.  And just wait until I get in a few commutes from home to work and back.  A single commute these days is almost a weeks worth of commutes from when I was on Colorado.

I couldn't help ponder the Cherokee Schill story while I was riding through Lexington.  I was more cognizant of every time I took a lane or had a car pass.  I was extra careful to obey laws and not take more of the road than I needed to be safe and efficient.

I started out in full support of her.  And then after discussing the matter with a few other cyclists, local transportation professionals and hashing it out in a couple of different online forums I've come to the conclusion that I jump to conclusions.

I think I know what the situation is.  And I know ultimately what the issues are.  But I'm going to hold off a little longer to fully weigh in (and for Pete's sake stop commenting on Facebook posts about it!) until I have a lot more information.

For now I'm going to say I'm fairly confident that the situation is more complicated than it seems from media reports, and it's not simply an issue of a cyclist fighting for their right to the road.  It seems that way.

Regardless, the story is going to spark a lot of debate in the area about cycling issues.  Hopefully transportation officials and the cycling community can steer those debates and dialogues into productive outcomes.  That's what I want to do without sniping at Ms Schill's character.

No comments:

Post a Comment