Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Share the road.
Alright so this is my first “real” blog post in a month or so and I decided to start with…bike riding. Early in the summer, I bought a new bike (the photo at left is my sweet new ride!). What I really wanted was a new car. I haven’t had a new car in years. We’ve had plans for new cars now and then, and my husband got a new car so he could commute to his new job, but it’s hard for me to make the case for a new car when I work out of my home office! So…I placated myself with a shiny new bike, and it’s been great. I made a commitment to try and ride the bike for any errands within two miles of home, inspired by the Clif 2 Mile Challenge. I was intrigued to learn that (according to the 2 Mile Challenge website) “40% of all urban travel in the US happens within 2 miles of where people live. And 90% of that travel is by car.” The premise of the Challenge is to get people to ride a bike for those under-2-mile trips, in order to reduce the effect of carbon emissions on climate change.
While I like the idea of reducing carbon emissions, I was motivated by some other benefits of bike riding in Ridgewood. For starters, no more parking hassle! There aren’t exactly bike racks everywhere, but there are lampposts, signposts and fences to which I can lock my bike. I love pulling up to whatever store or restaurant I want and parking my bike – FOR FREE – within a few feet. Next benefit – exercise. I had not ridden a bike in years, perhaps decades, and I forgot that you can get some pretty good exercise peddling around town. (There are hills and grades where I never noticed before.) The final benefit is saving a little on gas money. Hey, every little bit helps!
So this summer, I’ve been riding the bike for my typical errands, most of which are: bank, post office, Stop & Shop, nail salon, haircut, friends’ house. That’s pretty much my life outside the house. (Exciting, I know.) We’ll see how long I can keep riding when the weather starts cooling off. I can tell you I don’t ride in the rain and I won’t ride in the snow. I’m not that crazy.
But I did want to make one point after all this explanation: the streets of Ridgewood are not a welcome place for bike riders! I had no idea. The hazards are many: potholes, uneven pavement and deep sewer drains. People who open their doors without looking over their shoulder. People who follow too close in their cars, or who don’t pay attention when they make a right hand turn and you’re right there. Hello, I’m riding here! It’s frustrating…and more than a little scary sometimes. Now, I will never advocate bike riders who ride two- or three- (or more) across. That’s rude. But I think we all need to make it easier – and safer – for bike riders in our town. Fewer cars on the street benefits all of us. You don’t have to ride a bike if you don’t want, but please watch out for those who choose to get some exercise, reduce pollution, and leave a parking space open for you. You're welcome.
Update 8/23 @ 4:56 p.m.: A girl on a bike was hit by a car today at E. Ridgewood Ave. and Hope Street. It was about 10 minutes after I did my errands by bike. As I rode today on Ridgewood Ave downtown, squishing as far to the right as possible to avoid passing cars, hoping no one pulled out into traffic without looking over their shoulder, I realized how I should probably avoid Ridgewood Ave. Of course, it's impossible to avoid it completely when running errands downtown, but I gotta say, it is a little scary on a bike! I already make a habit of getting off the bike and walking across Ridgewood Ave or its cross streets downtown. It's just too risky to ride across. And forget about the offset intersection of Franklin and Maple...I have not figured out the best way to get across Maple there by bike. People...there are too many pedestrians and bicyclists being hit in our town! Pay attention, everyone!