Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thinking Small

Photo Credit: Google Image Search

In my last post I talked about the Great Allegheny Passage and I was and still am excited about all the great bicycle friendly news that has been happening here in Pittsburgh lately.

Article about all bike news

Like I said I am really excited about this. The idea that only spot the trail from DC to Pittsburgh wasn’t complete was here at the Pittsburgh end was always something I felt ashamed of.  I look forward to being able to ride from the Waterfront or Southside to Little Boston on my weekend warrior rides as opposed from always going to Little Boston and riding the trail out to there.

In the last post I asked the question of “What Next?” Where should the GAP be expanded to? I even posted those same questions over at BIKE-PGH Forums (Read Thread Here) and something became clear to me.

I’m not a Long Distance Rider

What I really want is to be able to ride my bike instead of having to drive, or get a ride from someone. The more I think about this Goal the more I realize that while I like riding the trails on the weekend what I would really like and what I think would promote riding even more isn’t the long trails but the ability of cyclist to get from one community to another in a clear safe way.  One of the things I learned when I moved from East Pittsburgh to Penn Hills I found that there really wasn’t an easy way for me to Commute to Town on my bike. Looking at maps and actually trying to get into town on my bike I find that there really is no Bike Friendly way into town. I either face roads that are either:

1. Very Bicycle Un-friendly
2. Have shoulders that in very poor repair
3. Hilly enough to make my legs hurt just typing this

Couple that with the rash of attacks on Cyclists and you begin to see my problem.

What’s the answer? In truth I don’t know but I do have some thoughts.

As I ride around I begin to see the possibilities of a form of Bike Highway and I don’t mean a system of bicycle only roads to connect the communities (That would be a dream come true) Instead I am talking about a system of Bike Lanes, Sharrows, Bike trails, and low traffic roads that provide a cyclist with a clear safe way to get from one community to another without having to worry about being run down, assaulted or faced with the prospect of ‘You can’t get there from here’

I know what a lot of you are thinking. You are thinking ‘What are you talking about? I don’t have any trouble getting anywhere’  That is most likely true if you are one of the cyclist that I wish I was. I’ve met you guys (and girls) who either live a car-free life or are working towards a car-free life. I will say right now that as much as I want to be part of that group and as much as I work toward being part of that group, there is a real fact that I may never really be part of that group. The group I am thoroughly ensconced in is the ‘I really like riding the trail on the weekend with my friends but I’m not so sure about the rest of the time.’ group

Have no doubts, this is a big group.

This is the group that I think can be moved to ride the bike to store, the Pharmacy, the Gym, and to all those short trips that people make everyday. The reasons that many people don’t hop on the bike and head off to the store can be varied and some of the excuses are weak enough that they are pretty much saying “uh, No thanks” but for many of us the real reason is that we don’t really feel all that safe riding our bikes on the roads in our communities, let alone trying to get to the communities around us.

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