Tuesday, January 5

From the Planner's Desk: No Place to Ride

A little housecleaning note...I'm going to try to stick to a Tuesday and Thursday posting schedule in the New Year.  No promises, but that's my intent.  This dovetails with my recent habit of posting on The Chainring Report on MWF.  Of course I'll have to throw in the occasional Ramming Speed Friday post here.  It's like a tradition, man!
Also, I am open for post topics and blog suggestions.  Email me at ascentionist on Yahoo Mail with any input or constructive criticism.  And now, on with the post...
A lot of people have told me they would take up riding or ride more if they only had a good place to ride.  And you have to remember that most people assume you take your bike to where you want to ride.  Or they don't.
Transporting a bike to a trailhead has its own pros and cons.  Depending on your car (or lack thereof) it can be easy or difficult.  Old pickup truck?  Piece of cake!  Ferrari?  Good luck with that; though I have no sympathy.  But if you can and are willing to portage your bike elsewhere to ride then your options grow.
Riding from home—front porch rides—can be satisfying, but not everyone is blessed with a great road for cycle in front of their homes.  If you are able to strike out without employing an internal combustion engine you can definitely ride more often as it is more convenient to just get on the bike and go as opposed to loading and unloading, changing clothes and shoes at either end of the ride, and making sure you don't forget your helmet at home.
If you are doubly blessed to live in a neighborhood or town conducive to cycling and have the room to leave a bike ready to go at all times then there should never be an excuse for you not to ride.  And don't give me that three feet of snow crap. 
But let's say you don't live on a great street and you don't have a lot of free space for your bike or fleet of bikes to stand ready for your cycling call.  How do you find places to ride in your town?
If you live in even a moderately sized city make sure you've explored all of your local resources.  Chances are there is some great place to ride that you've not considered.  Explore tracking apps like Strava and Map My Ride to see where other people are riding. Visit your community's parks and rec webpage or search for “Trails…Your City.”  Ask around. 
"Sure it's okay to ride on the golf course!  No one's stopped me yet."
If nothing is obvious then you have to get creative.  Can you ride the walking track at the city park?  Local school campuses?  Is there a county fairground nearby?  Public lands such as state and national parks?  When all else fails find a neighborhood with wide streets and low speed limits and traffic volume.   
If, after looking high and low for a decent place to cycle, you can’t find anything suitable, then it might be time to become a community activist and begin lobbying your local government(s) for better bike infrastructure.  Look at aerial photography (like Google Maps or Google Earth), local maps, and talk to others about where there might be places suitable for multiuse trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, etc, etc. 
Research funding sources.  It's easy to google "trail grants" or to contact your state's department for local governments or local development and ask how to find money for projects in your community.
Once you have a great idea (trust me, every town has potential, you just have to find it) then put together a simple proposal and run it by your local elected officials.  If they say ‘no’ remember that ‘no’ means ‘not right now’ and go home and research the issues they raise.  Go back with a better proposal.
Remember, it really sucks to look back and say “if only we had XYZed twenty years ago.”  Wouldn’t it be better in twenty years to say: “look what we accomplished!”
If not you then who.

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