Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Biking To Work In A Bronze-Star City

My bike in a bike rack at work.
My bike looks a little lonely, doesn’t it?  It’s in a bike rack at Mount Mercy University behind Warde Hall, the main administrative building of campus.—all alone on a sunny summerlike morning during “bike to work” week.

I wish there were more bikers here.  It would be nice if I had some competition for the prime parking spot in the Warde Hall rack.  Then again, I know many people live too far away and don’t have the option of riding.

This week, Cedar Rapids earned a “bronze” designation as a bike-friendly city.  The city has targeted steps it can take to extend trails, mark lanes and otherwise make Cedar Rapids a better biking environment.

Bravo.  The more bike-friendly a place is, the more livable, and usually pedestrian friendly it is.  Audrey and I walked on the CENMAR trail near MMU recently—it will be much more useful to bikers when it ties into other trails in the future, but for now it’s already a pleasant place to stroll.

In a time of increasing waistlines and healthcare costs skyrocketing, partly due to preventable, obesity-related conditions, public policies that promote literal people power are all for the best.

I think Cedar Rapids deserves recognition.  I think pedestrian-bike friendliness needs to be more embedded in street designs, but recent project have definitely helped this bike commuter.  Last week, I had to meet other faculty members at a Northeast restaurant located in the Lindale Mall area.  I was worried about getting there, but didn’t realize that sidewalks and walk signs had been extended in the area, and crossing Collins Road and First Avenue turned out to be a non-event.  Well, cool.

Now, for those of you who might want to point out that I should not have been riding on the sidewalk, some of you also complain that bikes block or delay traffic on streets.  You can’t have it both ways—if you don’t want bikes on busy streets, they are relegated to the sidewalk.  And on certain streets—where there are more than two lanes of traffic, where the speed limit is 35 mph or higher—I refuse to ride on the street, but I don’t refuse to ride.  If I’m on the sidewalk, I must also remember that I have to signal to and yield to pedestrians—the sidewalk belongs to them, just as I expect cars to watch out for me on quite streets, where it makes more sense for me to ride on the main thoroughfare.

Anyway, back on track, such as it is.  It’s nice the Cedar Rapids earned the bronze rating.  Now, get our there and ride and fill up those MMU bike racks!

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