Bicycling season off to slow start in southern Wisconsin
Last weekend I read a story about a growing national movement called “30 Days of Biking.” Now in its fifth year, the goal is for people to pledge to bicycle every day of April, no matter the weather and no matter how far.
I thought about signing on but looked at the forecast, considered my busy work schedule and home to-do list and decided against it.
After bicycling the one-mile trip to work more than 100 times in 2013, I did get my bike out for the season's first ride Monday, March 31. I skipped that blustery day Tuesday, when I worked an afternoon shift and then at night to help with election results. I rode to work twice Wednesday. Today the bike will stay in the garage—probably tomorrow, too.
Call me a fair-weather biker if you want. My neighbor probably would. He pedaled nearly 3 miles each way to work almost every day throughout winter. One time when we chatted he said he didn't bike a couple of times because it was too cold. So he walked. I was snowblowing another neighbor's driveway after a decent snowstorm another day, and here comes my neighbor, walking his bike home in the car tire paths on the street.
He was out walking his dogs two weeks ago, and seeing him reminded me to get the bike down from the rack and pump up the tires. After doing so, I drove off to play racquetball and stopped when I still saw him out with the dogs. “Where's your bike?” I asked, a frequent greeting between us.
“I'm done,” he replied.
He briefly told me he'd had an encounter with a hit-and-run driver while biking that day. He told me earlier that he'd been hit by a car while bicycling years ago, too. He didn't get hurt this time but said it's not worth the risk anymore.
I drove away saddened by the thought. I was heartened, however, to see him back on the bike earlier this week, wearing his helmet, as always.
I'd like to see Janesville become a more welcoming, bicycle-friendly city. We have this great network of trails, after all. Check out that “30 Days of Biking” website, and you'll find a photo of 260 people assembled on a hill March 31 in the Twin Cities to kick off their plans to ride each day of April. I'd like to see Janesville form a similar group (Does it have one I haven't heard about?).
Last year, another neighbor who trained for triathlons yelled at me in a friendly way for not wearing a helmet as I pedaled past her house. I figured I was fairly safe, riding down Ruger Avenue and then onto the sidewalk as I reached Court Street and then down Courthouse Hill to The Gazette. After hearing the story of my neighbor who got hit last month, however, I decided to play it safer this year. I'm putting on my helmet for this season's rides to work.
How about it, Janesville? Let's ride!