Being the self-centric cyclist that I am you might think this is another monotribe about my solo ramblings through the world. Did he finally screw up the gumption to ride the 45 miles to work?!
No, this isn't about me.
Meet Lori. Lori is the lone bicycle commuter employed by my organization. She rides every day and she's determined to ride year round.
Last spring I noticed a green cruiser bike propped against a tree out in the parking lot. It didn't take long to figure out who was riding it. Lori works in admin, and is maybe ten years older than me. I would safely venture to say that she's not the typical bike commuter, but then again, who is?
I've had a few conversations with her, enough to learn that she's not a fair weather cyclist and that she sees the bike as a very practical mode of transportation. She lives three miles from work, sticks to the sidewalk along Alumni, and will ride at lunch to run errands.
One morning as I drove in I saw her stopped along the sidewalk on Alumni pruning the overhanging hedges with hand pruners. Iwas impressed and told her so.
"Well, I didn't think the city was ever going to do anything about it," was her response.
A couple of months ago the green cruiser was replaced with an older geared mountain bike. She leans the bike against the tree—unlocked, in all-weather—every day. I take that back, I have seen her bike stored in the less used stairwell on rainy days. That made me smile as I solved my rainy day storage problem the same way in Colorado; except mine went in the stairwell so as not to foul the carpet in my cubicle.
Lori inspires me to ponder commuting again myself. The one way distance is prohibitive or I would have started doing it again long ago. I think I need to bite the bullet and just do it one day.
I also feel the urge to advocate for better conditions for her. A bike rack would be a great addition to our building. Heck, thatmight even inspire me more to ride. Covered bike parking would go a long way too. And I have connections in the city to advocate some bike infrastructure development in our neighborhood.
Why have I been sitting on my hands this long?
Also, most days I see another bike commuter of a similar demographic profile as Lori riding northeast on Squires Road in Lexington. I've seen her in all conditions: rain, darkness, heat, etc. and she seems to be of the same mindset. I would guess this lady has been at it a bit longer than Lori and she has more commuter dedicated gear such as lights and fenders.
This is heartening, not just because it's more utilitarian cyclists on the road in Lexington, Kentucky but that the numbers aren't increasing just in the lycra-clad aggro young male cyclist population. That's a positive sign of a healthy cycling environment.