After a four-year absence, I decided to revive this blog.  I couldn't resist. Bloomington has undergone so many changes in its bike culture, I could no longer avoid writing about it!

You may be wondering where I went.  Four years ago, I started a job that required commuting most days to Indianapolis. Home to office, this was an hour and a half commute. I no longer found myself out on the streets as much, and, honestly, after a ten-hour work day, followed by a long commute, the  last thing I wanted to do was to sit down and blog.

After two years, my position at my job allowed me to work full-time from Bloomington, but, by that point, I was pregnant. And, really, let's be honest, I wasn't riding anywhere.  Now, 20 months after my son's birth, I am ready to start blogging again.  Since Aaron turned 13 months, we have been riding and exploring Bloomington on our bike. He loves it, and I appreciate those moments we have to talk about everything we see as we ride (very slowly) by.

I wasn't kidding when I said that the Bloomington bike scene has changed a ton in the last four years.  Four years ago, I rarely saw any other ladies venturing down the street in skirts and heels. And most bike riders were of the "serious" sort. Even when commuting, they preferred their mountain- or road bikes.

Then, Kazaam!, Bloomington was hipsterized, and now every where you look you see cool cats on fab urban (Dutch-style) bikes--and I see at least one lady in a skirt every day.  Bloomington has long been a racing and touring kind of town. We are home to the Little 500  and the Hilly Hundred. But thanks to Brooklyn and Portland, OR, we now have a new kind of riding in town. And, while I may snicker about hipsters, I am truly grateful that more people are on bikes, because regardless of the bicycle infrastructure, the more bikes we have on the road, the safer bike riding will be for all.

Oh, about that infrastructure! Bloomington has been busy.  Look, I'm not going to lie. I don't live in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. This is not Paris or Portland, Oregon. I am in the middle of red-state country. Most people here like their cars, and they like to drive, even though just about everything is within 2-4 miles. I also live in a city whose planners (and advisers) seem to be dominated by "vehicular cyclists," who oppose segregated lanes and paths. (This despite the fact that those lanes and paths will get more people on their bikes, and, as I already mentioned, more bikes = safer riding.) Anywho, Bloomington has been busy building paths and segregated lanes, and I am super-excited to illustrate this new infrastructure in coming days and weeks! I believe in giving props where props is due.

So, until then, Happy Riding!


Sadie said...

Please don't fall into the trap of dividing cyclists against cyclists. It is hardly the case that vehicular cyclists are a significant force impeding cycling infrastructure. And vehicular cycling does not mean *opposing* designated infrastructure-- it just means that wherever cars go, cycles should be allowed to go, as long as they follow the same rules. That's pretty essential for cycling before the infrastructure is built, and even after-- there's never going to be a bike lane on every road, but a cyclist shouldn't be limited to bike lanes only.

It's pretty clear that the city's attitude toward bicycling infrastructure is that it's a leisure activity of the middle class. For example, I ride the Polly Grimshaw trail daily, and it's been impassible for two weeks, because it was not properly cleared after the snowfall, and is now a sheet of solid ice (even after three days above freezing). I contacted the city to ask them to open it up, and they sprayed a tiny bit of blue snow-melt on the first thirty feet or so of the trail. Not helpful. In addition, most of the bike lanes the city has put in are on downtown streets where the speed limit is already 25 mph or less. Those streets are already some of the safest for biking. Meanwhile, many of the biggest employers in town and most-visited shopping areas are completely without cycling infrastructure (anything on Liberty Drive or Whitehall Plaza is a nightmare to get to; even the mall on the east side is pretty intimidating unless you're fairly experienced with vehicular cycling). Since I only bike or walk, I have really benefited from the advice and education of vehicular cyclists; there are a lot of places I just wouldn't go if I didn't know how to share the road with cars safely.

Truthfully, I am skeptical of how dangerous vehicular cycling is made out to be in that (rude and condescending) Copenhaganize post. Everyone I know who has ever been hit while cycling got hit coming off of a sidewalk to cross a road. Cycling with traffic does feel more intimidating, and that matters for future planning, but VC advocates are right-- statistically, it's the safest (currently available) way to bike in the U.S.

Christie said...

Thank you, Sadie for your comment! I agree with much of what you say, but in my experience, it has sometimes been the vehicular cyclists who have obstructed efforts to create designated cycling lanes. And I have heard from many friends who have said that they would ride if it felt safer--i.e. no sharrows or otherwise expectations of riding with traffic.