Thursday, December 02, 2010

bikeability=liveability

Lyon, France has a large commuter bike program called Velo'v - a kind of take a bike, leave a bike program.  Each bike is equipped with a computer that gathers all sorts of data which is stored in a central computer.  From this data comes the first large look urban bike commuting habits of a city.  The findings are interesting, but the one that struck me most was that the average speed of commuters is consistently fastest on Wednesday.  It's like everyone attacks humpday with the zeal with which they attack on the hills in training rides.

I've been riding the new 321 underpass on the greenway as part of my commute and I have to say, well done Caldwell Count Pathways (full disclosure - I know sit on the board of the Pathways organization, but this effort was begun long before I joined).  It is well built and is as nice of a tunnel as I have seen on a greenway.  This big effort to build it has added significantly to the bikeability of our town.  And that idea of bikeability really ties in with my concept of what makes a place liveable.

For me, an area has to have access to cycling opportunities in order to be measurably liveable.  The more opportunity, the freer and more unfettered those opportunities are, the more liveable an area is.  Variety is important as well.  There needs to be scenic backroads with low traffic for road riding, trail networks for mountain biking and greenways for recreational riding and commuting.  Included with all of this has to be a bike shop (of course) which serves as an all in one hub for all of these different cycling specialities.

To me, Lenoir is getting quite high on the list of liveability when it comes to cycling opportunities, but there is still room to improve.  My wishlist:

1. Keep expanding the greenway.  A good goal would be to link all public schools with the greenway plus a corridor to CCC&TI.

2. Build a viable mountain bike trail network in town.  A trail network at the Aquatic Center would be a great way to add variety to the in town cycling opportunities and could serve as a great place to get people in to mountain biking.

3. Build a BMX track.  A BMX track would provide a great resource to help kids stay healthy and active.  Developing an active lifestyle at a young age has a huge impact on the rest of a kids life.  BMX is a great, low cost way to get kids into cycling as a sport.

These three things can be a reality if we, as a cycling community, want them and are willing to work for them.  It is great that we all ride our bikes and enjoy the company of fellow cyclists, but we must start acting like a community and take an active part in that community.  Find out how you can be involved, donate a little money to Pathways, participate in our local cycling events like Cycle to Serve and Bridge to Bridge.  Together, we can improve the liveability and visibility of Lenoir and Caldwell County.
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