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Posts Tagged ‘Bicycles’

I Bike KY and Hope you will, too.

2010/05/08 Leave a comment

In celebration of National Bike Month and local Bike Lexington events, I decided to finally make the t-shirt that I’ve been itching to wear, and found a good cause for it to support.

Inspired by a similar shirt I found in NYC, I’ve wanted a good way to proclaim to the world that I love riding my bike in KY. What’s not to love about forests full of cross-country MTB trails and an abundance of rolling hills navigable by horse farm-lined roads? While our state’s marketers often proclaim the merits of Kentucky’s equine heritage, Bourbon, and Bluegrass music, cycling may be our best-kept secret. Well, time to let the cat out of the bag:

The shirts go on sale Friday, May 14th for $15. Let me know if you want one!

While I’m excited to wear these shirts, and see them on other cyclists in KY, what really moves me is the opportunity to use this to benefit less fortunate cyclists in the area. While many commuter cyclists (like myself) choose their mode of transport based on preference, for others, it is the only viable option. The latter group is well-represented by men at Lexington’s Hope Center. Walking into the building on Loudon Ave, the dozens of bikes overflowing from racks make it obvious that residents rely on two-wheeled, self-propelled vehicles. Unfortunately, many of the bikes are in disrepair, inhibiting residents from effectively transporting themselves around Lexington.

While at a BPAC meeting on May 7th, I learned about an initiative to help the residents of the Hope Center overcome this challenge. By providing bicycle repair equipment and lessons, residents will be able to maintain their own bicycles to ensure a reliable, sustainable transportation option. Think teach-a-man-to-fish (we just need a few fishing poles). With help from a few of the local bike shops, all that’s needed to make this a reality is $300. That’s where you come in. By helping me sell 60 t-shirts, we can raise enough money to accomplish this first goal. Then, phase 2: lighting systems for all the Hope Center’s commuter cyclists!

Here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Order t-shirts (contact me if you’re local, or purchase via eBay)
  2. Encourage your friends to order t-shirts
  3. Donate money/tools/time
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MTB in Lex?

2010/04/28 10 comments
Rest break MTB at Capitol View

My friend Ryan likes MTB, too.

During Now What Lexington, Scott Clark and I discussed the mountain bike situation in Lexington. There is currently only one recognized trail in the city, at Veterans Park. Our friends at OutrageGIS have compiled a very nice map of the park, displaying the nearly 2.5 miles of singletrack. While I am proud that there is at least one trail in our city, it is rather limited in both distance and degree of difficulty. When I lived in Louisville, I was blessed with the ability to ride from my home to the Briar Hill trail (very technical, beautiful area), or take a short drive from work to trails at Cherokee or Seneca parks. Besides Veterans, the next closest trail to Lexington is in Frankfort’s Capitol View park. It is a great trail, but hardly a convenient after-work jaunt.

In our discussion, Scott told me about the great variety of trails he experienced while living in Northern California. After a long day of work, they were a very inviting reason to get out and exercise while enjoying nature. I have heard similar testimonials from friends in Seattle and Boulder, who love where they live because of the ease to go from office to wild trail in under 30 minutes. The only thing that seems to be standing between Lexington and the enjoyment of local MTB trails is our willingness to build. So, I wrote a letter…

Hello Parks and Rec!

I participated in a QOL focus group with Jerry Hancock yesterday, and didn’t get to speak with him before I left. Jerry mentioned the desire to modernize Lexington’s park system, and I was curious if this includes plans to add new Mountain Bike trails?

During the Creative Cities Summit and Now What Lexington, Scott Clark brought to my attention that Lexington has only one MTB trail (Veterans Park), and a short, entry level one at that. I noticed that it is not even designated on your trails list.

While I am excited about the quality of life benefits brought on by the pavement-type Legacy and Town Branch trails, I think that our city would be further enhanced by the addition of at least one new off-road MTB trail. Mountain biking is very popular among the creative class, the type of people our city is seeking to attract. Similar to hikers, mountain bikers crave an intimate experience with nature, and are inclined to preserve and maintain the environments in which they ride. As Central Kentucky seeks new ways to connect citizens and visitors to our region’s natural beauty, I think we would be remiss to move forward without plans for a new MTB trail in Fayette County.

How can I help make this a reality?

-Nick

I am excited for a response from Parks and Rec as to how citizens can help add a new trail and improve the quality of life in Lexington. I think this project will be a good complement to improved nightlife options in downtown, a more appropriate variety of housing near the city’s core, better public transportation, and stronger ties between the city and its three institutions of higher education, especially from the point of view of the creative class.

So, here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Get feedback from Parks and Rec (history of MTB in Lex, market demographics, regulations)
  2. Select a site (preferably close enough to ride from downtown to trailhead, yet with beautiful and challenging terrain)
  3. Learn how to build a trail (any experts here in Lex?)
  4. Invite all our friends to ride

I am neither an expert on trail building nor the most avid mountain biker in Lexington. I’m just a guy who loves every minute I spend on two wheels, and wants to share that joy with others. Will you help me?

==update 5/7/10==

The digging was worth it! Got some excellent news back from LFUCG and Pedal Power. In addition to upgrades to Veterans Park, construction is underway on a new trail in Scott County. Details from LFUCG:

Nick,

Thank you for your interest in mountain biking in Fayette County and Veterans Park.

The MB trails at Veterans developed unofficially over the years and are not designed to recognized safety and sustainability standards. Therefore, we didn’t feel it was prudent to “sanction” their use officially.

However, we currently have a contract with CDP Engineering to re-design the trail(s) and expand them to include 4 levels of difficulty as per national mb standards. We’ve had 2 public meetings which were heavily attended by members of the local chapter of the National Mountain Bike Association.

Using input from the association members and that of general public novice riders who also attended the meetings, we developed the attached plan. We are in the final stages of revision to a couple sections and working toward advertising bids for construction very soon.

We anticipate that current available funds will only cover the initial construction of the trail surface (and we won’t be sure how much until bids come in). We have talked to many local mountain bikers about organizing volunteer work groups to build many of the “events” along the more difficult trails once the trails are in place.

Joining KYMBA would provide a means for you to be updated about all mountain biking activities in the surrounding area. Here is a link to their website http://www.kymba.org

You can also watch this website for information about all types of local biking events, planning, advocacy and volunteer opportunities: http://www.bikelexington.com

I hope this information is helpful. Please don’t hesitate to contact me again if you have questions.

Michelle Kosieniak, RLA
Supt. of Planning & Design
LFUCG Division of Parks and Recreation
469 Parkway Dr., Lexington, KY 40504
…a nationally accredited Parks & Recreation agency
(859) 288-2982 office
(859) 489-9759 cell
(859) 288-2999 fax
michello@lexingtonky.gov

Veterans Park MTB upgrade plan

Veterans Park MTB upgrade plan

And from Pedal Power about MTB Trail Building in Scott County:

Nick, thanks for your interest! The regional chapter of the KY Mountain Bike Association is in the process of buiding an 8-10 mile mtb trail in Scott County outside of Stamping Ground. Different groups are taking responsibility for ensuring different sections get built and Pedal Power has committed to building 2.3 miles of the total trail network with the help of our customers and other volunteers from the community. We will be out working on the trail every Sunday in May (weather permitting) from 10am-2pm. The best bet for keeping up to date is to check our shop’s page on Facebook. There is also a Google group for volunteers with some good information on it that I am sending you an invitation to join if you’d like. It’d be great to see you out one Sunday! Let me know if I missed anything or you have any further questions! -John

Check out Skull Buster trail volunteers, and their work building a new set of MTB trails in Scott County, near Stamping Ground.

Scott Co Skull Buster trail map

Scott Co Skull Buster trail map

Close a street to cars, open it to people

2010/04/11 Leave a comment

Here are some pics from today’s 2ndSunday event. It started with an hour-long bike tour of Lexington’s Higher Education Triangle (Transy, BCTC, UK), then returned to a pedestrian-only Short Street for the Best of the Bluegrass Chili Cookoff and some live music from BOBO.

I can’t think of a better way to spend to enjoy 72 and sunny.

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Why I Hate Cars (Part 1)

2010/04/07 3 comments

My passionate dislike of automobiles and their effect on modern society is poised to become a treatise, hence the “Part 1” annotation in the title. This initial entry was spurred by startling transportation scenarios (one for me and one for a complete stranger friend), that occurred today while I was not riding in a car.

The most dangerous part about cars is how safe they have become.

Dwell on that for a moment before pointing out how obviously counterintuitive this statement is. You might notice a similarity to Parkinson’s Law, which states that Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Similarly, humans push their level of risk to the upper limits of their perceived level of safety. Why is texting while driving a problem? Because the perceived risk is so low. If drivers truly perceived that their risk of an injury crash increases four-fold when using a mobile device, would they continue that activity?

A few statistics for you to enjoy:

  • 4 out of every 5 accidents (80%) are attributed to distracted drivers. In contrast, drunk drivers account for roughly 1 out of 3 (33%) of all accidents nationally.
  • Texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while intoxicated.

Before I digress too far from the reason for this post, I want to discuss the two transportation safety wake-up calls I experienced today.

Those of you who know me know that a bicycle is by far my preferred form of transportation. I have been commuting for the last five years on a pair of $25 10-speed bikes. There is no other form of wheeled transportation that invigorates me and reminds me of my fragility as much as a bicycle. Today, while enjoying a 20-mile jaunt down Old Frankfort Pike, I was reminded just how insignificant I am on a bicycle when compared to a dump truck. I’ve traveled today’s cycling route several times (challenging hills and only 5-miles-to-horsefarm beauty), but just now experienced the difference in industrial traffic on a weekday vs. a weekend. As I was passed a 35mph by the seventh behemoth Mack truck on the pothole-infested, 2-lane, shoulder-less thoroughfare, I began to wonder if the truck drivers would even feel me if we were to collide. I found myself hoping to at least be the princess’s pea. Finally breaking out of the industrial park inside of Lexington’s New Circle Rd, Old Frankfort Pike becomes a 55-mph scenic byway with rolling hills steep enough to conceal oncoming traffic. Although the verdant landscape provides breathtaking views, the stream of near-misses from passing traffic aptly reminds me to breathe. My first close call of the day came when a pickup truck driver approached from the rear as my riding buddy and I were about to crest a hill. Instead of following good driving practice, the driver chose to display a flagrant disregard for the fragility of his own life by swerving into the opposing lane to pass us. Little did he know, a box truck occupied that other lane barely 50 yards downhill. The idiot driver fortunately avoided a collision, but nearly side-swiped my fellow rider in the process. That could easily have been a whole lot worse.

I typically follow S. Upper St. home from work, but today noticed that it was blocked off by a police cruiser. Curious, I took a detour, only to find more blocked roads in the area surrounding the Pedal Power bike shop. As I wound through a maze of alleys to see what had attracted the authorities, I was startled to see a long, solitary skid mark that was punctuated by a motorcycle. Shuddering, my averted glance quickly noticed a nearby sedan with a chopper-sized indentation in the hood, and the truth of the scenario unfolded before me. As I retreated down the alley to reflect and avoid being a nuisance to the rescue personnel, I was beckoned by a man sitting on a bench at nearby Mellow Mushroom. “Get off that bike!” he screamed, somewhat hilariously. Curious, I approached this man, whose name I discovered was Joseph. Out for an evening walk on the warm Spring night, Joseph had been the sole uninvolved witness to the collision, but he was far from unaffected. He shared with me the string of challenges brought on by poor decisions in his personal life, but he was totally shaken up by the accident that he had just witnessed. Weary of the fate of the injured motorcyclist, Joseph urged me to reconsider my mode of transportation, or to at least ride on the sidewalk away from the dangerous cars (even though I shared these stats). As I rode off wearing my neon yellow jacket (thanks, Mom), I turned on the three flashing lights on my bike and thought about how easily a 2000lb automobile could pulverize my sub-200lb pedaled amalgamation of human and steel. Realizing that transportation laws require us to travel on the same roads, I quickly remembered why I don’t like cars. Update: Driver of car was charged with DUI, motorcyclist is Sam Mullins, a friend and UK Engineering Alum.

At some point, I’ll hit on my other reasons for strongly opposing the automobile as the dominant form of human transportation, including:

  • Inadequacies in driver training and certification
  • Social impact
  • Environmental impact
  • Economic impact
  • City planning
  • Exercise and health

Please say a prayer for the motorcyclist who was in the collision mentioned above. It’s entirely possible that sending that last e-mail of the night is the only difference between he and I.

An Entrepreneur’s case for Bicycles

2009/10/09 5 comments

Entrepreneurship is an uphill battle, pitting the strength of human will against the headwinds of a fickle market. Everything that entrepreneur gets, he or she earns. Cycling is not much different, especially in the context of the rolling hills of Central Kentucky. There are ups and downs, that conveniently alternate without warning. Frequently you have to climb out of gulch, yet you can’t quite see the end. This is where determined cyclists and determined entrepreneurs can empathize. When you’re not at the top, but you want to be, you focus the entirety of your consciousness to make it happen.

Sometimes, entrepreneurship isn’t popular. Your friends and family, possibly your spouse, can be averted to the idea of discarding the security of a corporate job to pursue your passion. When commuting on my bicycle, I am frequently told by the drivers of neighboring cars that I should, “Get off the road!” or, “Buy a car you idiot!” Has this forced me to stop riding yet? No. Like a successful entrepreneur, I have taken the time to observe the big picture. I have a 1 mile commute. While this is a 20-minute walk, it is barely a 5-minute bike ride. During rush hour (ie the time when I actually commute), driving a car this distance through downtown Lexington takes about 15 minutes. I don’t think my choice to commute by bicycle is that novel of an idea, but it seems to have far more benefits than drawbacks:

  • Nearest bike rack is immediately outside the doors to my office building. The parking lot is around the back, across the street.
  • During a 15-minute car ride through city traffic, 2 things are successfully accomplished
    • Waste a lot of gas heating up an engine
    • Build up a lot of frustration, wanting to go somewhere but being inhibited by the herd.

This is where I find the greatest similarity between entrepreneurs and commuter cyclists. So many people are frustrated with their jobs and their commutes. Yet, instead of looking for and being willing to try another viable option, they continue to give into the unintentional societal norms that suggest that a good benefits package is more important than following your dreams or that paying for the luxury of gasoline has better results than daily exercise.

Entrepreneurs and commuter cyclists must always be alert. They stand out from the herd, so they must learn to protect themselves. But likely that is the reason they have chosen their path in the first place. They care so much about their passion that they manifest the will to execute upon it. How the world is a better place as a result of these pursuit.