Saturday, September 30, 2006

Biking to work in East Shreveport: a minuscule but growing phenomenon

Bike to Work grows: Friday there were five

An estimated 40,000 cyclists commute to work by bike in NYC, says Steven Kurutz in a NY Times article called Queasy Rider.

He writes, "Despite the obstacles, this may be an ideal moment for seeking a bike-friendlier New York. With issues like global warming and high gas prices at the forefront of public consciousness, many advocates say that after years of struggle, they finally have the political capital to make cycling a top priority in the city."

In East Shreveport I'm part of a salutary and early step in that direction. Several of the teachers at Caddo Magnet High have begun to bike to work. We meet at Betty Virginia Park. So far it has been a Friday commute. Some of us will upgrade to twice a week. Initially there were three of us. This week there were five.

The NY Times article follows a magazine editor who rides from Brooklyn to Manhattan. He began biking to work two months ago "because he wanted to lose weight but didn’t feel like going to the gym."

We're doing it for several reasons. Keeping the weight down and pumping the heart rate up is one of them. Inspiring the students and local comuters is another reason. One of the benefits is that the ride is a breakfast conversation sans biscuits.

What about safety? In the NY Times article Kurutz says three NYC riders were killed in June. "A 23-year-old aspiring filmmaker was pinned beneath a tractor-trailer on Houston Street in Manhattan on a weekday morning. A 41-year-old woman was hit by a truck on Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn in the evening. And a 56-year-old doctor collided with a Police Department tow truck while taking a midnight ride on the Hudson River Greenway."

The Hudson River Greenway is an 11.5-mile stretch that runs from Inwood to Battery Park City. "With as many as 10,000 cyclists on the busiest days, Transportation Alternatives says, it ranks as the nation’s busiest bike path."

Kurutz notes "Chicago, with a population of nearly three million, announced a plan this year to put every resident within a half-mile of a bike path. And Chicago’s program seems paltry in comparison with that of Davis, Calif., a city of 60,000 that Bicycling magazine said “has cycling in its veins.” Among Davis’s features are a $7.4 million bike tunnel and a network of bike paths so comprehensive and safe that the city has eliminated its public school buses."

In Queasy Rider the editor says "When I bike, I see faces. I see storefronts. I’ll stop to visit someone. I’m engaged in the city.”

Biking for exercise and for camaraderie has many local adherents. Biking to work is something else. It integrates exercise into the daily flow. We are lucky that ours is a 25-minute commute through the old part of the city.

Safety? We meet at 7:15, when auto traffic is light. Going home about 4:30 is also a light time - on the right streets. We stash work clothing in a locker in our classrooms. In a small way we're living as though we were in a cool, utopian city.

How many of you bike to work? To the grocery store? Where do you live?

"Shreveport drivers are pretty nice to me," said scooter commuter and Centenary prof Todd Gabriel yesterday at Brookshires. He likes motorized cycling so much he's bought his second small Honda scooter. He adds, "It feels a lot safer here than in Phoenix."


superstar said...

good picture

trudeau said...

Ian Webb, proprietor of River City Cycling, Youree Drive, is a terrific person re. biking and commuting. He's looking forward to doing some bicyclist advocacy work, he says, and to organizing family riverfront rides.

trudeau said...

Photo by Kelly!

trudeau said...

One more thing: the age span of this group of riders is some 25 years. From 30 somethings to guys in their late 50's.

Anonymous said...

I love biking in the neighborhood but I have yet to feel comfortable biking on roads with a steady stream of cars.

Crazy In Shreveport said...

If Paris Hilton lived in Shreveport she'd say "You guys are hot!"

Anonymous said...

Good job! I dont bike, but I try to walk a lot. Going to be getting into some of the "night bus" action this weekend, my fingers are crossed. - anon