Louisville Bicycle Club
September-October 2008 Newsletter

From the President
Utilitarian Cycling

by


Iím sure youíve noticed the increase in utilitarian cyclists. Iíve seen more commuters and more people toting groceries and other goods on their bikes than I can remember. The escalating price of gas and the increased focus on healthfulness has helped. We might wake up one day soon and find ourselves in a time when cycling will be cool, not just for the skinny, body-suited racers but the everyman cyclist.

Like you and me.

So I couldnít have picked a better time to begin my two-times-a-week commuting goal. Readers of this space know all too well the difficulty Iíve had getting the miles in. Iíve finally stopped fooling myself about leaving the office early enough to make many evening club rides. Commuting seemed like the obvious solution. I felt the excitement of feeling like a trailblazer, even though I knew cyclists who had commuted for years. The gas savings would be a bonus.

Finding the right route from St. Matthews to the Buechel area was the first challenge. Getting to Browns Lane was easy. From there to Hikes Lane, to Old Bardstown Road, to Buechel Bank Road and into the GE parking lot for a total of 11 miles made a great morning work-out, especially since a new gym and showers facilities had been added.

The most challenging part of the ride was the Hikes Lane leg. This road wouldnít know bike-friendly from a hole in the ground (of which there are several.) Four lanes of 55-mph traffic, treacherous storm water drains and bumps, lumps and grooves. You canít tell if youíre sweating from the workout or the fright. The trip homeóusually after 7óis more relaxed. Motorists are less harried and so the road rage quotient is lower.

Along with the increase in cyclists has come an increase in reports of cyclist-motorist conflicts. Some, no doubt, result directly from the fact that more riders mean more occasions for an incident to occur. But some result from increased driver impatience with having to share the road on more occasions. And worse, some conflicts result from increased driver resentment (or rage) at having to share the road.

Everyone is predicting that the upward trend in commuting and utilitarian cycling will continue. That puts a special responsibility on LBC to provide tools to these new riders to enable them to go competently and safely. Youíll be hearing more about that and weíll be asking some of you to help with a broader education effort.

In the meantime, stand on your rights to the road. Ride safe and donít let that minority of bad, disregardful or angry drivers get the jump on you.


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