Some of us came of age before there were bike paths. I grew up in a boring flat city with 3,000 miles of safe streets on a grid system. I really didn’t feel a great need to mix it up with traffic in those days. My motto was to stay clear of cars and pretty much bike ride on side streets or less traveled streets. Easy. And lonely. There were few other bike riders in the late 70’s into the late 80’s.
I checked in on my hometown, Indianapolis, recently and discovered the city is installing bike paths and lanes.
About 30 years late for me but, there still are very few bike riders in Indianapolis. Nowadays, bike riders there and everywhere else are scorned as being smug A holes because we want a piece of the street for ourselves and more than that for our children. It is easy to contrast my old hometown with my new hometown in that people in Minneapolis are excited to be outdoors in a big way and it is part of our identity. For their part the generation at the turn of the 20th century, built public spaces that have endured so residents can walk and bike throughout the city. There is not another large American city like Minneapolis. Can places like Indianapolis move people to embrace the outdoors with their vision to create places to walk and bike to? I believe any city can stand on their own two feet when they get residents physically engaged and promoting the cities strengths. When a place like Indy is stupidly flat, impossibly easy to get around and in such dire straights demographically to do something that identifies them with something other than racing cars, it is time to move into the 21st century on bikes. It is no denying that cars have sucked the life out of dozens of American cities. Indy, look around either you start bike riding or suffer the fate of Cleveland or worse. Once you get on your bike you know its right.