**Pulled open my draft folder and found some interesting writings. This one is from August 2011. Many of the thoughts still stand.**
We celebrated surpassing our van miles with our bikes yesterday. In approximately two months, we have ridden more miles on our bikes to more locations with more members of our family than we have driven. I like to disclaim my mileage on the vehicle with, 400 of those were to Columbus and back to take my grandma home, and to do a little bike shopping. Yet, that’s part of this “real life” experience. Sometimes you need to get out of town and sometimes the best (economical and convenient) way to do that is with a car you already own. Grandma could have gone home on the Greyhound, in the same manor she arrived, but I just didn’t want to send her off that way.
We have had other challenges here in Huntington, WV, when it comes to getting somewhere without a vehicle. I was unsuccessful in finding a way to the local airport, the art museum, Lavalette and Kenova, WV. There was a trip to Charleston that Brent needed to make. We have used carpooling, when the driver is going our way anyhow and sometimes we have driven, because after all, we have a car to drive. Yet, it remains my preference to find ways to get to and fro without the Honda Odyssey. I enjoy the process of solving the problem and I relish the accomplishment once I have seen that it can be done. The savings is motivating and my legs are also looking stronger.
|Miles Walked: 0||Biked: 44.9||Bused: 0||Drove: 10.2||This week|
|58.4||577.2||12.6||574||Since August 14, 2011|
Plans for Huntington’s Cycling Future
This week I made a call to the folks at the PATH about their intentions with a specific portion of their map that effects our route to school. I was disappointed to learn that the portion of Norway we prefer to use for convenience, but loath because of safety issues, will only be receiving Share the Road signs and there are no plans for improving the quality of the roads, sidewalks or installing bikes lanes.I offered them my assistance in anyway I could, including any help I might be with writing for the West Virginia Safe Routes to School Grant.
I expressed my interest in improving the routes to schools for many locations in Cabell county, as I believe “what’s good for the goose”…and “it sometimes takes a village”, as well as “be the change you want to see”. We have many friends here who have said they are unable to get their children to school (Geneva Kent, Hite Saunders, Spring Hill, Beverly Hills Middle) by any other means than to drive or have them bussed by the school board because of the very traffic they have to participate in to portage their family or the lack of alternate protected sidewalks and bike lanes.
A Simple Six as Leadership
I am learning a great deal about the power of the bicycle as I embed myself deeper into this lifestyle. I am still learning. Many others have blazed the way of advocacy before me. Up to this point I have avoided a lot of outspoken behavior that bares a strong message in favor of cycling here in Huntington. At least I feel that I have done a decent job of only relaying our experiences without a lot of complaint and finger wagging. I recognize that cars are not the enemy. I have tried to keep my questions and concerns about bike safety to forums that have members who might share my sentiments or have a solution to offer (PATH, Create Huntington, Critical Mass Huntington). Many of the blog posts I have made were in an effort to describe how we have biked as a family in our town and as a way to illustrate the positive in Huntington, despite it’s reputation in the national news.
All the while I have wanted things to improve and I have wanted someone to share it all with. Our transition to going car-lite has been gradual and I don’t expect or ask anyone to give up their cars. I may ask my friends why they haven’t considered biking, but I won’t tell them they should run out and buy a bike and join me, although I would love it. I will tell you all about our experiences and explain to you how we are doing it and why it’s such fun. I will even tell you all the negative experiences and difficulties we have had with our bikes. I enjoy talking about it, but I do wish there were other families here embracing it. I look forward to seeing the PATH completed and the community more receptive and accommodating. I am excited to see the changes as they occur here in our little Appalachian city. I am happy to be a part of them, no matter how insignificant.
Then there is the self doubt and the fear. While I know I am very passionate and obsessive about what our family is doing now, if you knew me before, I wasn’t passionate about much of anything. I certainly had interests and I discussed my process of understanding the food culture, cloth diapering, aftermarket economies, preschool art, raising children, and my belief system with my friends, but I could have shrugged any of them off at anytime. I wavered in my convictions of what I loved. I didn’t know who I am and I was adopting the interests of the media and my peers. This isn’t to say I was jumping on board every passing ship, but I valued what others were doing and when I found a particularly frugal method that was also “socially acceptable” I would consider it and then possible join the crew. As I grow I am also peeling off some layers of my image. As I root myself in my existence I am strengthening my resolve. I am standing for something.
There have been some difficult conversations in my home lately. Most them involve my sensibilities and my husband’s convictions. We are constantly standing worlds apart on many things that he holds true (topics like FDR’s second bill of rights) and I toss about like salt. Yet, just because I don’t take to heart his values and beliefs doesn’t mean we don’t have a middle ground and attempt to find the others point of view. I see where he is coming from, but it’s not something I accept for me, at this time, and it’s OK. Most of the time it’s better than OK, it’s wonderful. I used to worry that we would grow apart as he builds his career and I wondered pointlessly (I know there is a purpose) through child rearing longing to finish my masters degree and to build my own interests that seemingly get push aside for colds, spelling tests and chess club. Our differences are opportunities for learning and growing together. I use this as an illustration of how my point of view may vary from many in my circles and yet we still have good relationships.
It is my hope that my passion for seeing Huntington, WV as a strong bicycling community, one that builds a foundation on small local businesses and community relationships is shared by my peers and the citizenship of our town.