Pedals and pavement

A month ago, I finally caved to the temptation – I bought a road bike.

The kind with 2 pedals, brakes on the handlebars and skinny tires. Not a top end model, but a very good entry level bicycle.

About the same time last year, I started toying with the idea. While I am a runner, I thought it might be fun to pedal around town and explore additional ways to stay active, be healthy and provide an alternative to running. Plus, one of my closest friends biked often, and many of my runner friends also dabbled with cycling.

And before I ever planned to run a marathon, I thought I might dabble in triathlons.

Each time I thought about taking the plunge, though, I kept thinking about a time when I rode 13 miles around Fargo on my mountain bike. I hurt for days pushing that heavy thing around – but I also didn’t know at the time that it needed some replacement parts that have since made it far easier to ride.

The idea that I’d like cycling was rekindled by another friend this winter. And I couldn’t drop the idea of buying a road bike. I wanted to ride fast and complement my running. When I finally took the plunge, it wasn’t necessarily cheap. But it also helps that I now live in an area with a wide assortment of trails, paved and off-road, and many of the roads have bike lanes and wide shoulders to accommodate cyclists.

Then I read a story in The Forum, where I worked before moving to Bemidji, about a plan to add bike lanes when the city reconstructs some of the north Fargo streets.

After moving from Moorhead to Fargo, I became a north side resident. Those were the streets I ran – and drove – nearly every day. And it seems ridiculous that Dave Piepkorn, a north side resident and city commissioner, would adamantly oppose bike lanes.

Considering his opposition, I wonder what he thinks about all of us runners – and cyclists – who spend early mornings and evenings after work training and staying healthy? Dozens go by his house every day. I was one of them. He lives in a nice upscale neighborhood, away from the road being discussed for a bike lane, but why would he be opposed to the idea, especially when so many of his neighbors – and constituents – would benefit?

Major metropolitan cities, and small progressive ones, have incorporated bike lanes into transportation plans and urban planning. Opponents forget that bicyclists have laws to follow, and to protect them, as do motorists, pedestrians and everyone else who has reason to use public streets. Roadways aren’t just for cars or trucks – and you don’t need to own a motor vehicle to see your tax dollars go to paying for the upkeep and maintenance of streets.

Bike lanes, like other amenities, are a quality of life issue. They are appealing, providing additional transportation and recreational avenues. Are all those cities that have adopted and embraced bike lanes, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation, have it wrong?

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