In Part I, I talked about a transformation that is taking place within myself, involving my health and fitness, on and off the bike. Now, in Part II, I want to discuss what it takes to transform my community into becoming bike friendly. Previously I defined transformation, now let’s define bike friendly: a manner in which those who ride bicycles are made to feel welcome and respected as an intricate part of a local existence by those who do not ride bicycles.
When Tim and I first decided to begin this RAM Cycling website adventure, I had huge dreams for how we would affect bicycle awareness in my community. Wow, in reflection, I must be somewhat of a dreamer. But if you can’t dream it, you can’t achieve it, some have said. Now, nearly two years later, our hometown has new dedicated bike lanes through downtown, numerous bike art statues located all around town, a group of citizens committed to extending “The Legacy Trail,” a dedicated cycling/pedestrian paved path, into town from its current stopping point at The Kentucky Horse Park, which would connect us to downtown Lexington via a trail with no traffic, and the Bluegrass Cycling Club (our local group of cyclists) now offers group rides with support to multiple paces twice weekly from right here in downtown Georgetown. Considering all these changes, one would think our community has begun to fully embrace the bicycle friendly state of mind.
That’s exactly what my heart wants to believe, however my association with non-cyclists and some other harsh realities are unfortunate reminders that we’re just not there yet. I will offer a couple of examples. I have been told by local elected officials that all they have heard about the bike lanes on Broadway St. are complaints, and they are going to ask the state transpo dept to conduct safety studies to determine if the lanes should stay or if it would be safer to revert back to a four lane highway going through the center of downtown. Yeah, a four lane highway for cars through a residential and multiple schools zone sounds much safer than two lanes for cars and two for bikes?!
The next example is a little more unsettling. Our most recent victim to lose their life on their bike was about a month ago, when an avid seasoned cyclist was struck by a car on his daily commute home from work. I will not comment on the details of this specific accident because I was not, nor have I spoke with a witness. But I will say this: there are two sides of the story in any accident, and unfortunately we never get to hear the cyclist side. What I will comment on, is the statement that was left by an individual at the conclusion of the accident report on a local news website. The comment stated: “Cyclists in my town have a death wish. I hope they get what they deserve.” If that doesn’t make you question the level of bike friendliness of your community, nothing will. The sad fact is, that person is probably not alone in their sentiment.
Well let me say this in response, “I am a cyclist in my town, and I too, hope all cyclist get what we deserve! What we deserve is spelled out above in the definition of a bike friendly community. While I fully understand there is a risk of a fatal accident every time I choose to ride my bike on the road, where I belong, no cyclist deserves to die for making that decision to ride. And certainly no spouse or child deserves to learn the news that their spouse or parent or loved one was killed while riding their bike.”
I will always have hope that we will continue to grow as a more bike friendly community, and that one day those who embrace the idea of bike friendly will be the majority. In the mean time, we will proceed to do our part in our commitment to raise awareness for bicycles and fight for bicycle safety here at RAM Cycling. This transformation is possible, all it takes is effort, and given the changes we’ve made over the last two years, I’d say we’re headed in the right direction!