conversations (and #330daysofbiking)
I first met David several weeks ago while riding on the Greenway. We had a discussion about the upcoming expansion plans for the Greenway and cycling in our little town of Cleveland, TN. I ran into him again this week, on his bike, and we had a few minutes to continue the conversation…
It always inspires and encourages me when I meet other like-minded cyclists – people using bike for transportation as well as recreation. People like David who are excited to participate in a less car-centric lifestyle, who support and advocate changes that will make our community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Like many of us, David’s love of cycling began in during his childhood. He told me about growing up in Virginia, riding his bicycle around a local Pepsi plant and realizing how amazing it was – being able to get around everywhere and anywhere his legs could pedal him. His love of cycling continued, and over the years he has participated in Chattanooga’s 3-State 3-Mountain Century numerous times, as well as other biking events, and now shares his love of cycling with his family.
Sometime in during the past few years, David decided he wanted to ride more. So he “re-commited to riding every other day” – commuting to work, to appointments, making some shopping trips with a trailer. He discovered that his commute from home to office via the Greenway was actually often faster by bike than by car.
“There is really no downside,” he told me. “I can get most places fast enough, and feel better about it.”
As we both eagerly await the upcoming expansion of the local Greenway, it was interesting to reflect upon the change in public perception over the project.
“I know there were more than a few people who were initially opposed to the idea (of constructing the Greenway), thinking it would be a waste of money,” he reflected. “And those same people have been quite surprised by the amazing number of people they now see taking advantage of it; walkers, joggers, cyclists…”
“A lot of people will say how they would like things to be ‘like they used to be’,” he commented, reflecting on small-town life when people would walk into town, to the store, etc. “What they don’t realize is that adopting policies that will help people walk (and ride) more, and drive less, can bring that back – the sense of community, the interaction.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Ride on, David! Thanks for the inspiration. Let’s keep this conversation rolling.
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Even though I don’t bike, I value the greenway if only for the connectedness it offers the community. The HS students use it to walk over to Perkits for yogurt or Subway for sandwiches, Yates and Ross schools will use it to walk to Tinsley Park for field trips, I walk with my friends for exercise and fellowship. Now if only we could put in some sidewalks so our children could walk to school again!
Oh, that last photo is so great… Surly should make a limited edition CrayolaRoller and a Little Lego Dummy.
It’s interesting that some were initially against the Greenway – reminds me of a comment in the book Pedaling Revolution by Jeff Mapes. Apparently, way back when more bike/pedestrian friendly infrastructure was being proposed in Copenhagen (now a biking paradise, along with Amsterdam), many commented “We are Danes, not Italians – we won’t come out.” Now there are people biking and walking everywhere, with almost as many people biking as driving. Just goes to show that until people experience something, they may not realize it could be better for them and that they enjoy it more than the “old” way!