Look Ma, no cars!
Kudos, Midwest on your great bike trail infrastructure! Rails-to-trails paths that wind through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan have provided a much-needed respite from the buzz of the road over the last few weeks. My initial excitement over finding the Great Allegheny Passage trail (Awesome! Beautiful!) through Maryland and Pennsylvania quickly grew after I realized that there were hundreds of miles of bike paths between DC and Houghton. Hopefully one day there will be a national network of these fantastic resources that encourage community health and stewardship!
Imagine a female-friendly bike shop that caters to your average novice woman rider. One that organizes ‘Sip n’ Spin’ cruiser rides and carries darling Nutcase helmets. Well, you’re in luck, because it exists! Greenville, South Carolina, is home to Pedal Chic, a great shop that hosted me when I passed through town last month. Not only did the owner host me in her home but she also organized events, scheduled me a massage, had her mechanic tune my bike and attended my school presentations. I can’t say enough great things about Pedal Chic – if you’re in Greenville, pay them a visit!
On bike tours, as in life, it is often a stranger who imparts on you the most valuable pieces of wisdom. Such was the case for me today in rural Georgia. After a morning of excitement in the form of charging pit bulls, overexcited golden labs and beautiful scenery, I stopped for a quick break at a lonely mini mart perched on the intersection of two lazy secondary highways.
As I sat drinking a cold juice in the shade of the building’s eaves, a slightly bedraggled gentleman sauntered up muttering under his breath. After being a [cycling] transient for 5+ months, I am now quite used to interacting with the down & out types that one often encounters while living on the road. I smiled politely and said hello, but before I could return to my beverage he began to comment on my bike.
“Ya’ll ridin dem bikes, ya’ll be crazy!” he exclaimed. “Not crazy, it’s a challenge,” I replied. “Well ya’ll sure do look good. Everyone one of you on a bike. Is that why you be doin this? To look good?”
My answer was reflexive. My mouth spat out the words before my brain was done conjuring them, “No, I ride to feel good.” And with that my new friend nodded in approval, tossed his soda into the trash and continued on down the line.
It was heartening to see a stranger agree that a healthy body is a result of treating yourself with respect – giving it the exercise and movement that it craves. I’m out here riding to feel good about my body, to feel good about the SFT and to encourage others to feel good too. As it turns out, looking good is just a pleasant side effect.
Portland provided a great backdrop for this photo by Justin Myers from Myers Photography.
Thanks Justin (and crew) for the entertaining chilly morning, hot coffee and great shot!
I can vouch. Davis, California loves its bikes.
My cycling heart is full after a week in Davis. I has seen countless kids on bikes, dogs in trailers, folding bikes, tall bikes, cruisers, businessmen toting flowers home to their sweetie and so much more. The bicycle path network here is extensive and I was lucky enough to score a tour by some local bicycle advocates a few days ago.
After an early morning meeting in one of the many city parks, we pedaled off to examine some of the arterial cycling routes that students use to get to school. Our group cruised along shaded bike paths, across intersections, under tunnels, over bridges and through quiet streets that may someday be designated as ‘Bike Boulevards”. The network of paths was very impressive and even the most distant neighborhoods had access to safe routes.
The bicycle bridge over I-80 that connects North and South Davis.
One great program promoting biking and walking to school in Davis is Save A Gallon. Each day volunteers at Birch Lane Elementary track the number of student trips by scanning barcodes attached to each child’s backpack. We stopped by the school to observe this process and it was fantastic to see a line of kiddos waiting to log their miles for the day. This program provides small incentives for the participants and also has an auto-notify feature that emails each parent once their child arrives safely at school.
Many would say that Davis is a haven for bicycles, and in many ways, it is. In fact, one high school that I visited sees 50% of its student body arrive by bike. However, there is always room for improvement and during our lengthy tour of the city, my kind hosts pointed out some of their challenges and problem areas as well. Priority issues include improving a narrow tunnel that connects East and West Davis, increasing the use of ‘Sharrows’ and putting a few streets on a ‘road diet’. Much of Davis’ success promoting bicycle travel is a result of city planning that happened long ago – think the 70′s. Modern advocates are trying to encourage the passage of a Complete Streets policy in order to maintain Davis’ status as a Platinum Bicycle Town.
Davis is an inspiring place to ride and a great example of a community that has integrated bicycles into all aspects of its every day life. Thanks, everyone, for a great stay!
Wondering how far I ride daily? Curious about my average heart rate? Check out a sample SFT route at my Garmin Connect page for detailed bike-geek data from my
Edge 800 Bike Computer & GPS unit: