This brief little film came out just a couple of weeks ago, and from the moment I saw it, I knew that I wanted to write about what I saw and felt as I watched the video. Having lived in MSP for almost 10 years, I have a personal connection to the contents of this video because of my time in Minnesota as well as my involvement in the biking community here in Austin. I initially had every intention of turning this post into some sort of rallying cry / rant about why Austin hasn’t built up a bike specific greenway like in MSP. Sure Austin has the Lance Armstrong Bikeway – but that route serves primarily as a recreational path – and does not provide a protected path for a majority of commuters, which are coming from the north and south. The Midtown Greenway connects residential and business areas in MSP, and as a result has earned the nickname “Bike Highway”. On snowy days, the Greenway is often the fastest way downtown because the route gets plowed well before any of the area roads.
Certainly, as the video highlights, the Greenway has a strong recreational ridership, but from personal experience there is also a steady stream of functional riders (commuters, people heading out for dinner, running errands, etc.) One thing that struck me as I watched the video was how many women, children, and adults with child trailers in tow you saw in the video. Aside from mass recreational rides like last weeks Tour De Fat, you don’t see as many women or kids riding on our streets in Austin. Don’t get me wrong, there is an ever growing community of bikers in Austin, heck people move here from all over the globe to experience our fantastic cycling climate, but we will know that we have reached that tipping point when we see the mom and her kid riding down the same city street as the group ride starting at one of the local bike shops.
I am not just wishing this will happen, I am available to be part of the solution. Sure I can join the League of Bicycling Voters , support local politicians who are bike friendly, and be out on the road on my bike. I was struck by a recent article I read about Michael Bloomberg and what he has done for NYC as mayor. Invariably the article turned to the possibility of “Bloomberg for President”, and while not saying it would never happen, he did offer an explanation why he has not jumped into the mix.
Among elected officials, Bloomberg makes clear, city mayors can have more freedom than most. “The mayor’s job is very different from the chief executive’s at higher levels–state, federal, county, however you want to put it,” he remarks. “What state governments and federal governments do is reallocate funds.
That statement got me thinking about my neighborhood. Sure I could wait for the mayor and city council to add a separated bike line in my neighborhood or I could stop waiting and get involved. The neighborhood has plenty of space for a separated lane…..now somebody needs to go out there and make it happen.
Damn….nobody else is raising their hand…..I guess that means it is up to me.