Wednesday, February 24, 2016

If Not You Then Who?

I’m a busy guy.  Some day—years from now—I hope I can look back on my efforts with some satisfaction and pride at what I accomplished.  But ultimately I’m not looking for name recognition or kudos or even monetary compensation.  All would be nice, but my motivation is simply to see things get done that just need to be done.
Mountain bike trails.  I am working hard to get legal purpose-built bike-optimized trails built in my neighborhood.  When I say “my neighborhood” I mean locations within thirty minutes of my house.  This is taking a surprisingly yuge amount of effort and energy.  I do recognize that at some point critical mass will be achieved and there will be more backs to distribute the load, but until then I am the Quixotic champion of Red River Gorge area mountain bike trails.
A bike friendly Powell County.  Again, working hard to make this happen.  I have a scheme for the long term.  I’m working toward making it happen.  But again, this is something that someone should have been doing twenty years ago.  If I wait around for someone else to do it then it may never get done.  And it’s important.

So I could be out riding my bike, running, rock climbing, or maybe even working on my house.  But I can’t stomach the idea of another year, another month, another week or day or hour going by while nothing gets done. 
Some day—maybe next year—I hope that I will just be able to think about going and riding my mountain bike and not worry about building a place for the activity to occur.  I really don’t want to be building trails.  I really don’t want to be writing grants.  I really don’t care to attend public meetings, to call and track down public officials and land managers, to explain why we need more access to trails and the outdoors, to make the case for these things that will result in better health, better tourism opportunities, and a better quality of life for residents and visitors to our community alike.
I don’t want to do all of those things.  What I really want to do is ride my bike.
And I’d like for there to be enough people walking, running, and riding bikes on the roads for motorists to pay more attention and give cyclists and pedestrians more consideration.
It would be really easy to give up.  I could grow fat and lazy and stop giving a damn.  For a little while.  But then I'd get restless and frustrated.  I’d go out and ride my road bike and get pissed off at inattentive and aggressive drivers.  I’d bemoan the fact that there’s absolutely no developed off-road cycling opportunities in my community.  I’d bemoan the fact that no one cares.
The truth is…a lot of people care.  The truth is that what I want is what a lot of people want.  And the reasons no one is actively pursuing these things are the normal reasons people don’t become activists and advocates: lack of time, lack of understanding of how the decision making process works, lack of organization, lack of community energy and momentum.
And because people care and because nothing is currently going on in the bike-ped realm in my community I feel compelled to act.  I have the background, the experience, and the knowledge to make things happen.  I’m not really an expert on these things, but I know enough to be dangerous and perhaps to get things done.  Give me a year and I’ll let you call me an expert.
The easy thing to do would be to find a community that already has all of the amenities that I want to enjoy in my daily life and move there.  But the easy thing isn’t always the right thing.  And the easy thing isn’t always the best thing.
I want more people to have the opportunity to enjoy trails, the outdoors, better health, and a culture of daily activity.  And who better to benefit from those things than my family and life long friends?

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