They say the wheel was the single greatest human invention in all of history. I say it was perfected when it was paired with a second wheel, pedals, a seat, and handlebars. It wasn’t really a reinvention of the wheel, but an evolutionary inevitability. Why invent the wheel if not so the bicycle could come into existence? I’m sure the original R&D team was actually thinking more along the lines of the bike, but they just didn’t have the funding to take it that far.
My original Pavement’s Edge blog fit into a certain time and place. I wasn’t new to urban bike commuting, but I was new to the idea of fully committing to the bike as an individual mode of transportation while being part of a family that depended on me to provide.
The blog quickly evolved into my daily observations on bicycle life and culture. My interest in policy issues grew as I rambled all over the computer screen with my sometimes naïve exposés and smorgasbords of semi-prose.
I’ve tried to reinvent the blog since we left Colorado and I ceased to be a full time (or even part time) bike commuter. In the past six months I’ve hardly even been a cyclist. I thought I would remain ingrained in the advocate-blogger mindset through my running activities, but it never panned out.
I think part of the problem is that I’ve grown complacent. I’m not angry. I don’t have drivers trying to kill me on my bike every day. I don’t have to deal so directly with poor infrastructure. I sit in my hybrid compact for an hour and a half every day listening to NPR and pissing off all the Friends of Coal with my Friends of Sol sticker, and I forget that I have things I want to say and should be saying about the issues of bicycle and pedestrian inequality in the world. Particularly in Kentucky…my home state has a long way to go. There is a huge gap in the culture here and there is a lot of good work that needs to be done. I’ve found that basically all you have to do is start having the conversations and things start to change.
I’ve failed to capitalize on that.
My intention had been to delve into the underlying conditions that have led to my daily commute-work routine as being normal for so many people. I’ve not really written much about it, though I have been researching, pondering, and trying to shape my conclusions. I wonder if I have enough information.
For more than a year I’ve been meaning to read Night Comes to the Cumberlands because I am certain that understanding the history of Eastern Kentucky is crucial to explain my particular view point of the world. Three or four times I tried, but never got more than a couple of chapters. But finally I’m making headway and am halfway through the book. Extractive industries have played an enormous role in shaping the economic, political, and social structures of my world.
I’m not saying that the answers to all my questions are hidden between the pages of Harry M. Caudill’s iconic book. I think I have a lot of my answers already. I need to start fleshing them out and throwing them up here on this back alley wall of the internet and see if they stick.
My recent few posts here have not gone very deep. They are beginning to scratch the skin of the monster I want to awaken, but we’ve not really taken a big bite out of the meat yet. Don’t take this as a bold promise to begin writing scathing critiques of the hordes of SOVs flowing in a torrent to and from Lexington every day, but maybe I will start looking into why I’m not riding my bike to work and why I can’t live the simple life I yearn to live.
I need to ask the questions and plumb the depths for the answers.
That’s really the true spirit of this blog going back to its roots. One of my earliest posts was a weak effort to understand the Jersey Guys that raced laps around Washington Park in Denver in a wolfpack that terrorized the walkers, runners, and roller skaters that congregated in the park instead of taking to the multiuse trails or roadways that were more appropriate for the speeds they wanted to ride.
In that paragraph I think I got deeper than that long ago post, so maybe I’ve grown in my understanding of the issues enough to really begin taking on the hard stuff.